7 white helmets rescuers shot dead in gun attack

7 White Helmets rescuers shot dead in Syria gun attack

Seven volunteers with the Syrian civil defense rescue service were killed in a shooting by unidentified attackers in rebel-held Idlib province on Saturday, the civil defense said on its Twitter feed.

According to a report by CNN, the unknown gunmen stormed the volunteers' office in northwestern Syria to carry out the attack. Sarmin is in Idlib region, which saw conflicts as of late between al-Qaida-connected contenders and individuals from the ultraconservative Ahrar al-Sham gathering that finished with al-Qaida warriors catching a significant part of the locale.

The Syrian Civil Defence group, more popularly known as the White Helmets, said in a statement that the attack happened in the early hours in the town of Sarmin.

Corroborating the attack, the Aleppo Media Center activist group said seven volunteers were killed in an attack - and posted video and photos of their funeral. Numerous mourners wore the White Helmets badge and broke down in tears.

The organization stresses its neutrality and not supporting ay political or armed group - it receives funds from UK, Netherlands, Denmark, Germany, Japan and the US.

Colleagues came in the morning for a change of shift and found them dead, Observatory head Rami Abdel Rahman told AFP.

The White Helmets emerged in 2013, working to rescue civilians in rebel-held areas.

They have since gained widespread global renown for their daring rescues, with footage often taken and circulated on social media.

Their detractors, including President Bashar al-Assad's government and his ally Russian Federation, accuse them of being tools of their global donors.

Critics have also claimed rebel fighters, including jihadists, operate in their ranks.

No group has yet claimed responsibility for the attack. The footage was widely circulated on social media and was shown on news channels all over the world.

White Helmet volunteers are trained in Turkey to provide emergency medical assistance to civilians caught in Syria's civil war.

Last year, it was the subject of an Oscar-winning documentary which showed the group's heroic efforts in desperate and unsafe situations.

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