After Oscar win, head of White Helmets says ‘in Syria, there is still life, hope’

The White Helmets, a documentary that follows a group of Syrian Civil Defense volunteers who carry out search-and-rescue operations across the country, won an Oscar award for Best Documentary Short at the 89th Academy Awards on Sunday.

The documentary, directed by British filmmaker Orlando von Einsiedel, chronicles the work of the opposition’s Civil Defense, the search-and-rescue teams, first responders and paramedics all of whom wear white helmets across rebel-held Syria.

But the head of the Syrian Civil Defense, who had planned to attend the Oscars ceremony, and one of the film’s cinematographers were visibly absent from the ceremony for different reasons.

Raed al-Saleh, head of the Syrian Civil Defense, cancelled his trip in light of increased regime bombardment across opposition-held Syria.

“I recognize the importance of the Oscars as a platform for our message,” al-Saleh told Syria Direct’s Noura al-Hourani, “but the decision [to cancel] was clear after I saw the latest escalations of

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