The White Helmets operate a rescue service in rebel-held
parts of Syria, which have been subjected to fierce bombardment
by the government and Russia's air force during the country's
civil war that has leveled whole city districts.
Their film, nominated in the Oscars short subject documentary
category, gives a glimpse into the daily lives of the
Syria's government under President Bashar al-Assad has accused
the group of being a front for al Qaeda and of faking footage of
the aftermath of air strikes for propaganda purposes, charges
the White Helmets deny.
Two of the rescue workers, their leader Raed Saleh and Khaled
Khatib, who is also a cameraman, were given visas by the United
States to visit the country for the Oscars' ceremony in Los
Angeles on Sunday night.
However, in a statement early on Sunday, the White Helmets said
that Saleh would not be able to leave his work because of the
high intensity of air strikes while Khatib could not attend
because Syria's government had canceled his passport.
"The Syrian Civil Defence are grateful for the platform the film
'The White Helmets' is providing for their humanitarian message
to reach around the world," the statement said.
(Reporting By Angus McDowall; Editing by Keith Weir)
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