White Helmets, a controversial group hailed as heroes in the West but also criticized for being close to radical Islamist forces in Syria, are filming video guides, which are meant for Ukrainians, the British newspaper Times reported on Monday.
The first of a planned series of videos, which the Times said will be translated into Ukrainian, showed two men explaining how to search for people under debris, identify unexploded ordnance and use first aid on injured people.
There is an overarching goal of teaching people in Kiev that “properly documenting rescue operations can help to provide credible evidence of atrocities,” according to Times. The group advised filming the action with GoPro cameras for later use.
White Helmets was created in 2014 and claims to be a civilian rescue force helping civilians injured by the Syrian government. It received funding from Western governments and was praised by Western media as brave heroes of the protracted war in Syria.
Critics, including Russia, call them a propaganda outfit that work hand-in-glove with the rebel groups that control the territories, in which the White Helmets operate. On several occasions, members of the group were filmed participating in apparent executions by jihadists.
In some cases, Western media outlets confirmed the allegations to be true. For example, France 24 authenticated footage showing the White Helmets taking part in an execution in Haritan, a suburb of Aleppo, which was carried out in 2015 by the terrorist group Al Nusra Front. The group distanced itself from the incident, saying their goal was “to go pick up the body” and that its people arrived before the killing took place.