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‘You met Al-Qaeda’s medical staff’: US envoy to UN takes heat after proudly greeting notorious White Helmets

‘You met Al-Qaeda’s medical staff’: US envoy to UN takes heat after proudly greeting notorious White Helmets
Colorful images of Ambassador Kelly Craft enthusiastically shaking hands with ‘White Helmets’ members made rounds online, with users reminding the diplomat of their connections to a jihadi group the US once fought against.

Craft, who serves as the US Ambassador to the United Nations, showed up at the Turkey-Syrian border, posing with members of the self-described “civil defense group.” She didn’t come empty-handed, though, promising a hefty $108-million “humanitarian support package” intended for the people of northern Syria.

“Grateful to shake the hands of the brave men and women of the #whitehelmets,” Kelly tweeted, hailing them as “ordinary people doing extraordinary things to save the lives of Syrian victims of Assad’s brutality.”

What she failed to mention, however, was that the White Helmets’ reputation is far from untainted. The group, once lauded as fearless first responders in the Western media, have been accused of siding with Al-Qaeda and other terrorist groups inside Syria. Photographs and videos documented their members posing with jihadists.

Aside from that, they were repeatedly implicated in setting up chemical attacks, at times used as justification by Western nations to carry out strikes against the Syrian army.Some concerned netizens didn’t miss an opportunity to lash out at the Ambassador.

“Good job, ambassador. You met the "medical" staff of Al-Qaeda,” one user noted.

Others envisioned it as a sign of the US endorsing jihadist groups. The latter claim has some roots in reality since Washington suggested that Hayat Tahrir ash-Sham — Al-Qaeda’s franchise operating on Syria’s Idlib — isn’t that terrorist anymore.

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There were some who alleged that ‘White Helmets’ were complicit in forced displacement of people in Afrin, Syria’s Kurdish enclave.

It’s worth mentioning that the group’s name is highly misleading, since there is an actual Syrian civil defense run by the government. Currently, the ‘White Helmets’ operate solely in the parts of Idlib province where militants still hold the ground.

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