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7 white helmets rescuers shot dead in gun attack

7 white helmets rescuers shot dead in gun attackā€

Seven members of Syria's White Helmets rescue group have been shot dead in their base by unidentified attackers.

The rescue organization shared a brief statement on Twitter, confirming the deaths of the volunteers at the group's operations center in the city of Sarmin on Saturday morning.

The Syrian Network for Human Rights documented 65 aid workers killed and 135 attacks against aid facilities in the first half of 2017. Raed al-Saleh, leader of the White Helmets, left a message for peace at a temple when collecting the prize: "We have seen war".

The organization, the subject of a film that won this year's Academy Award for best documentary short, has been targeted in the past.

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

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

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

They receive funding from a number of Western governments, including Britain, Germany, the Netherlands and the United States.

President Bashar al Assad's government, meanwhile, accuses the group of faking videos and being a tool of its global donors.

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

According to unverified statistics compiled by the White Helmets, volunteer rescuers have saved more than 85,000 civilians since the group's inception.

Idlib province in north-western Syria is controlled by Syrian rebels groups.

It now has over 3,000 volunteers conducting rescue missions across rebel-held parts of Syria.



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