White Helmets decry members' deaths in Hama airstrike

White Helmets decry members' deaths in Hama airstrike
Eight members of the Syrian Civil Defence response team were killed on Saturday in a reported airstrike targeting rebel-held Kafr Zeita in Hama.
2 min read
01 May, 2017
More than 140 Civil Defence members have been killed in Syria [AFP]
The Syrian Civil Defence on Sunday condemned a deadly airstrike on a facility in the Kafr Zeita suburb of Hama that lead to the deaths of eight volunteers from the group, also known as the White Helmets, a day earlier.

In the statement the group, which operates in opposition controlled areas of Syria, and won an Oscar earlier this year, named those eight members killed, adding that several raids by reported Syrian regime aircraft over Kafr Zeita had also lead to the deaths of a paramedic and a civilian attempting to recover bodies from the rubble.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported intense aerial bombardment targeting Kafr Zeita on Saturday. 

The attack, said the White Helmets statement, would hamper the ability of the group to cater for the needs of civilians in the area, but said civil defence teams in northern Hama continued to operate.

It also condemned what it described as the Assad regime's targeting of civilian infrastructures, such as hospitals and aid clinics, endangering first responders, medical personnel, and aid workers, in addition to civilians. 

“We consider this statement as an appeal to protect medical and humanitarian facilities and not to repeat the tragedy of east Aleppo,” said the statement.

“We call on the international community to act.”

Pro-regime forces, backed by Russian airstrikes, and assisted by Iranian-backed militias, are currently advancing on areas north of government-held Hama city, seeking to reverse gains made by rebel groups fighting against Bashar al-Assad last month. 

The White Helmets, which formed in 2013, is composed of around 3,000 volunteers. According to the group's website its members have saved more than 62,000 lives, while more than 140 have been killed.