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Editorial: If anyone deserves a Nobel Peace Prize, it is Syria’s White Helmets

BRAVEHEARTS: Syrian rescue workers called The White Helmets carry the injured following regime airstrikes in Aleppo. (AP)
Wars are never a pretty sight. They tend to bring out the worst in humanity. The ongoing catastrophe in Syria since 2011 is no different. Over the past five years, we have seen it all — a brutal regime which has responded with bullets, barrel bombs and biological weapons to the legitimate demands of peaceful protesters who sought nothing more than to live decently, free from fear and be able to choose their leadership that is meant to be a republic.
We have seen the regime unleash monsters from its prisons, monsters who eventually became leaders of what is — probably — the most atrocious bunch of thugs humanity has ever seen, a terrorist organization by the name of Daesh. Not only did these criminals hijack the people’s peaceful protests and turn them militant, they also hijacked a whole religion and claimed a caliphate (or should we say a caliph-HATE) in its name.
Daesh has confiscated lands, raped women, tortured children, killed the elderly, burned people alive and recorded, broadcasted all of their above-mentioned crimes. Meanwhile, the regime sought to convince the international community that it is not the villain, but the victim. Unsurprisingly, the Assad regime was — and remains — backed by the world’s biggest state sponsor of terrorism, Iran.
The situation worsened for the crushed Syrian people when the world’s biggest superpower, the United States, failed to honor its word upon declaring that using chemical weapons is a red line. This not only encouraged Assad to carry on with his crimes, but also paved the way for a full-fledged and unprecedented Russian intervention in the region — an intervention that was not as much in support of the Syrian regime as it was to settle scores with Washington.
With the death toll estimated to exceed 400,000, and with millions of displaced Syrian refugees with no real hope of ever coming back home or resuming their normal life, the situation could not be any gloomier.
Yet, they say the night is darkest just before the dawn. While we all pray for the end of this ugly war, there is a glimpse of hope in The White Helmets — a group of around 3,000 local volunteers who are truly redefining the meaning of sacrifice, courage and patriotism.
Once normal citizens who were students, engineers, merchants or farmers, The White Helmets have taken it upon themselves to rush toward bombed sites and do what they can to pull out survivors left shocked and injured. Given the ongoing onslaught, one can only imagine how busy — and dangerous — the lives of these self-appointed rescuers can be.
As the Nobel Committee prepares to announce this year’s Peace Prize, Arab News joins everyone around the world who have signed an online petition in support of The White Helmets’ rightful nomination.
Furthermore, to everyone who has shed a tear, tweeted with anger, or wondered how they could help upon seeing the heartbreaking images of young Aylan Kurdi who drowned last year trying to escape this hell, or those of Omran Daqneesh who survived a recent airstrike and lives to most probably die another day, this is your chance to do something:
Go to https://nobelpeaceprize.whitehelmets.org/en and join us in backing The White Helmets.

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