Feedback
News
gallery

Syria’s ‘White Helmets’: Angels on the Front Line

The "White Helmets," ordinary Syrians who make up the Civil Defense, are the first rescuers to respond to barrel bombs and missile strikes.

Members of Syria's Civil Defense rescue children after an air strike in Aleppo on June 2, 2014.

Known as the White Helmets for their trademark headgear, members of Civil Defense put their lives on the line every day to save civilians affected by the country's brutal war.

SULTAN KITAZ / Reuters

A Civil Defense member and a volunteer carry a girl rescued from under the rubble of a destroyed building following an airstrike on the rebel-held Salihin neighborhood of Aleppo on Sept. 10, 2016.

The volunteer rescue workers, who have saved more than 60,000 lives, are nominated for this year's Nobel Peace Prize. Some of the biggest names in Hollywood have joined more than 130,000 people worldwide who signed a petition supporting the nomination of the Syrian rescue group. 

THAER MOHAMMED / AFP - Getty Images

Five-year-old Omran Daqneesh sits in an ambulance after being pulled out of a building hit by an airstrike in Aleppo on Aug. 17.

The White Helmets gained international recognition in August when the group helped save Omran, whose photo was seen around the world. The image of stunned boy covered in dust and blood encapsulated the horrors inflicted on war-ravaged Syria and its people.

Aleppo Media Center via AP

Civil Defense members search for survivors on Sept. 1, 2016, amid burning vehicles belonging to people fleeing from the town of Souran, in northern Hama, after they were reportedly targeted by a Syrian government forces air strike.

The White Helmets grew out of networks of volunteer first responders who were rescuing victims from government shelling and bombardment in opposition areas.

OMAR HAJ KADOUR / AFP - Getty Images

A Civil Defense member carries a dead child at a site hit by what activists said were airstrikes carried out by the Russian air force in the rebel-controlled area of Maaret al-Numan in Syria's Idlib province on Jan. 9, 2016.

The White Helmets come from diverse walks of life; there are among them carpenters, students, lawyers, and doctors.

Khalil Ashawi / REUTERS

A Civil Defense member is stuck under the debris after a strike in Aleppo on July 27, 2014.

More than five years old, the conflict in Syria began with protests against President Bashar al-Assad before descending into a multi-sided war that has drawn in foreign governments and allowed the growth of Islamic State.

REUTERS
A Civil Defense member looks for survivors after a strike in Aleppo on July 27, 2014. Hamid Khatib / REUTERS

Omar Alwan, 21, a Civil Defense member, poses in Idlib on March 8, 2016."The war will not end in Syria until Bashar Al-Assad leaves," said Alwan. 

Khalil Ashawi / REUTERS
Children attend a war safety awareness class conducted by Civil Defence member in the rebel-controlled area of Maaret al-Numan in Idlib province on May 14, 2016. KHALIL ASHAWI / Reuters
Civil Defense members mourn the death of a comrade, killed in airstrikes activists said were carried out by the Russian air force, during his funeral in Ehsim, Idlib province, on Oct. 3, 2015. Khalil Ashawi / REUTERS

Syrian Civil Defense workers rescue a wounded young man from under the rubble of a collapsed building following airstrikes on July 17, 2016 in Aleppo.

Thaer Mohammed / AFP - Getty Images file

Syrian Civil Defense volunteers celebrate in Aleppo on Aug 6, 2016, after rebels said they had broken a three-week government siege on Aleppo.

Rebel and regime forces have fought for control of the provincial capital since mid-2012, transforming the former economic powerhouse into a divided, bombed-out city.

THAER MOHAMMED / AFP - Getty Images
Civil Defense members push a car at a site hit by airstrikes in Idlib on June 12, 2016. AMMAR ABDULLAH / Reuters

A Civil Defense member transports an injured girl into an ambulance after an airstrike in Idlib on June 15.

Ammar Abdullah / Zuma Press
Civil Defense members carry a casualty after an airstrike at a field hospital in rebel-held Aleppo on April 27, 2016. ABDALRHMAN ISMAIL / Reuters
Civil Defense volunteers remove a baby from under the rubble of a destroyed building following an airstrike in Aleppo on April 28, 2016. AMEER ALHALBI / AFP - Getty Images

A Civil Defense member tries to put out a fire after an airstrike in the rebel-held city of Idlib on Aug. 10, 2016.

Related: Netflix's 'White Helmets' Highlights a Syrian Rescue Group on the Front Line

AMMAR ABDULLAH / Reuters