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Statement on killing of two volunteers in Khan Sheikhoun

On 26th June two White Helmet volunteers were killed when Russian forces tracked and targeted their ambulance.

Statement published: Wednesday 26th June, 2019

"Today two White Helmets volunteers were killed and five injured while responding to an airstrike that hit civilian areas in the town of Khan Sheikhoun in southern Idlib. The rescue operation was deliberately targeted by Syrian regime warplanes, which tracked the rescue workers with the support of Russian forces.

Another warplane deliberately targeted the second ambulance that arrived at the scene, dealing serious injuries to the volunteers inside the ambulance. It took our teams two hours to evacuate the injured volunteers due to the continuous bombing of that area.

A thorough examination of evidence, such as eyewitnesses and the identification of the munitions used in the attack on the White Helmets' ambulances, have conclusively proven that the aircraft that committed today's crime of targeting and killing our volunteers belonged to the Russian Air Force, which used surveillance aircraft and warplanes that deliberately committed the crime.

As described by both survivors and eyewitness, the first Russian warplane targeted our first responders' team that arrived on the scene following a Russian warplane attack. Moments later another Russian warplane carried out a double tap attack on the rescue team while attempting to pull out the bodies from the first ambulance. The aerial attack by the Russian Air Forces resulted in two martyrs and five severe injuries among the White Helmets.

This comes only a few days after the deliberate targeting of a Violet Organization ambulance which killed three paramedics and injured one civilian, and was condemned by the United Nations. These attacks follow a pattern that shows systematic monitoring of ambulances and rescue workers by the Syrian regime and Russia, with the aim to maximize civilian suffering by hindering our capacity to respond to airstrikes.

We condemn the deliberate and systematic targeting of civilians and humanitarian workers in the strongest possible terms, and demand an immediate investigation into these attacks. The international community must ensure that humanitarians, civilians, and civilian infrastructure are protected from bombing and hold accountable the perpetrators of those attacks."

The Syria Civil Defence