The White Helmets non-governmental organization, which gained notoriety for dismissing falsified information about events in Syria, has also been involved in forcible removal of organs from Syrians living in militant-controlled zones, according to Russian experts who interviewed locals.
Director of the Russian Foundation for the Study of Democracy Maxim Grigoryev made the statement while presenting a survey headlined “White Helmets: terrorist abettors and sources of disinformation” at the Russian Foreign Ministry. The foreword to the survey was written by Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.
“They [White Helmets] were a key element in this illegal scheme of organ removal. We learned about those incidents from the people whom we interviewed. This information came as an unpleasant surprise to us,” said Grigoryev, who is a co-author of the survey, TASS reports.
In his words, researchers received this information while interviewing residents of Syrian regions where White Helmets were most active. Grigoryev and his colleagues recorded over 100 interviews not only with residents of Aleppo, Damascus, Douma, Deir ez-Zor and Saqba, but also with over 40 members of White Helmets and about 20 former members of armed groups.
According to eyewitnesses’ testimony, White Helmets were involved in evacuating people whom they promised medical assistance. After that, their relatives received bodies with some vital organs missing. This became evident when the bodies were examined and weighted, Grigoryev said.
He also said that, according to several media reports, White Helmets co-founder James Le Mesurier who recently died under suspicious circumstances, was in Yugoslavia in late 1990s. During this period, illegal extraction of human organs and trade in them was in full swing in Kosovo, he continued.
“The scheme of illegal extraction of organs from residents of Serbia was carried out on the territory where he [Le Mesurier] was staying, and exactly the same system was recreated in Syria. This is exactly what White Helmets are doing,” the Russian expert said.
The Syria Civil Defense (commonly known as The White Helmets) is a non-governmental organization created in Syrian territory in 2014. Notorious for uploading to the world web photographs and videos allegedly illustrating destruction and casualties caused by the Syrian government army and its allies. The organization has more than once been accused of fabricating fakes. Some of the alleged victims shown in the video as victims of a chemical attack in Douma eventually testified as witnesses at a news briefing arranged by the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons to refute the very instance of chemical attacks.
Russia’s official position is the SCD is part of a media campaign unleashed against the Syrian authorities. The Russian Foreign Ministry said in January 2018 the White Helmets “have long cooperated with terrorist groups” and “utterly discredited themselves by stating provocations and spreading flagrant falsehoods.”
On July 22 last year Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Emmanuel Nahshon said that Israel had evacuated White Helmets activists and their families from Syria to Canada and a number of European countries at the United States’ request. The Israeli army radio Galei Tzahal said that 800 people had been moved from southern Syria to Jordan in that operation.
Damascus argues that the White Helmets are linked with the terrorist group Jabhat al-Nusra (outlawed in Russia) and operate in its interests. The United States has financed the White Helmets since 2013.