Seven White Helmets members shot dead in northwestern Syria

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.

The Aleppo Media Center activist group also said seven volunteers were killed in an attack - and posted video and photos of their funeral.

A Syrian paramedic group active in opposition-controlled areas says gunmen have stormed one of its offices in northwestern Syria killing seven of its members and stealing two vehicles and other equipment.

The White Helmets have brought to light the scale of the Syrian conflict in a painfully visceral way, documenting their recovery operations through video and photo.

The al-Qaida-linked Hayat Tahrir al Sham - also known as HTS - said over the past weeks that its members have discovered sleepers cells of the Islamic State of Syria and Iraq (ISIL, also known as ISIS) group who were planning an attack.

They operate a rescue service in rebel-held parts of Syria, which have been subjected to fierce bombardment by the government and Russia's air force that has levelled whole city districts during the country's civil war.

The SCD receives millions of pounds worth of funding from many Western government including the United Kingdom and the US.

They have since gained worldwide renown for their daring rescues, often filmed and circulated on social media, and were nominated for the 2016 Nobel Peace Prize.

Although they work exclusively in rebel-held areas, they are non-partisan.

No one immediately claimed responsibility for the rare attack but it came amid tension in the area.

Footage that circulated on social media showed Syrian soldiers firing celebratory gunfire and showed the terrorists' deserted arms caches and hideouts in the town of al-Sukhna, 50 km northeast of the ancient city of Palmyra.

According to unverified statistics compiled by the White Helmets, volunteer rescuers have saved more than 85,000 civilians since the group's inception. They are often the first on the scene after bombings to help those injured and pull survivors from the rubble.

The film, which was made by Netflix, received a standing ovation when it won the Academy Award for Best Documentary Short at this year's Oscars.

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