Syria's White Helmets 'stand in solidarity' with Ukraine people
The White Helmets - otherwise known as the Syrian Civil Defence - affirmed their "solidarity with the people of Ukraine", in a statement on Tuesday, saying it fears Russian weapons "tested on Syrians" will soon be used on Ukrainians.
The group, whose workers have been rescuing Syrians from Russian and regime airstrikes in the country's war, have said they stand with Ukrainians "in the face of Russian aggression... [and] terrorism".
Syria-regime ally, Russian President Vladimir Putin, on Monday recognised rebel territories in eastern Ukraine as independent republics and ordered his military to "maintain peace" there, as fears of an assault on the Ukrainian capital Kyiv reached an all time high.
"It pains us immensely to know that the weapons tested on Syrians will now be used against Ukrainian civilians... We are saddened to see Ukraine being victims of a litany of violations that have pushed the boundaries of what is acceptable in international law," the White Helmets said.
"Unfortunately, those subjected to Russian aggression have not found much support from the international community in holding Russia to account... it is the best time for meaningful action to hold Putin and his oligarchs accountable," the statement added.
Russian forces entered the Syria war in 2015, helping to turn the tide of the Syria war - which began in 2011 - in favour of Bashar Al-Assad's regime.
Backed by Russian airstrikes, the regime regained control over most of the country. It followed a violent crackdown on pro-democracy protesters leading to a wider uprising against Bashar Al-Assad.
At least 500,000 Syrians have lost their lives in the war, mostly from Syrian regime bombing and shelling.
The White Helmets say they have lost 292 volunteer rescue workers, most of whom were killed as a result of direct targeting or strikes by the Syrian regime and Russian forces.
NGO Human Rights Watch also voiced fears on Tuesday that the Russian "war crimes strategy" used in Syria could be replicated in Ukraine if a full-scale invasion occurs.