Ending the War on Civilians: A Discussion with Syria's White Helmets

April 24, 2017 - 1:00 pm

Atlantic Council, 1030 15th ST NW, 12th Floor
Washington, DC
 Please note, head of the White Helmets Raed Saleh has been recognized as one of TIME's 100 Most Influential People of 2017. He will no longer be available to join the discussion on Monday due to an associated commitment.


Ending the War on Civilians: A Discussion with Syria’s White Helmets

Jehad Mahameed
Liaison Officer
Syria Civil Defense

Manal Abazeed
Syria Civil Defense

Moderated by
Faysal Itani
Senior Fellow, Rafik Hariri Center for the Middle East
Atlantic Council
The Assad regime continues to bomb civilian areas, causing mass casualties and making normal life impossible in opposition-held Syria. Volunteers with the Syria Civil Defense, also known as the White Helmets, have saved over eighty thousand lives at enormous risk to themselves. US policy has done little to end the killing in Syria. However, a recent US cruise missile strike on the regime’s Shayrat air base, the first direct US military action against Assad, has reinvigorated the debate over US strategy in Syria. 

Safe zones have repeatedly emerged as a potential and critical component of a strategy to end the conflict. While attention tends to focus on the war on the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) further north, southern Syria—a key area of operations for the White Helmets—is strategically crucial and a strong candidate for such protection. 

Please join us on April 24, 2017 for a discussion on the war on civilians, the use of chemical weapons, and the case for a no-fly zone, with an emphasis on southern Syria, with members of the Syria Civil Defense.

On Twitter? Follow @ACMideast and use #ACSyria

Atlantic Council
1030 15th Street NW, 12th Floor (West Tower Elevator) 
Washington, DC 

This event is open to press and on the record. 


Jehad Mahameed is the liaison officer of the Syria Civil Defense (SCD). He is from Deraa and was one of the original founders of the local civil defense committee in Deraa in 2011. When the SCD was officially formed in 2013, his committee joined the national organization. He also helped to start the Quneitera branch of the SCD, establishing the first offices in Quneitera just last year. He studied economics in college and worked in the state-run Syrian Commercial Bank until 2011. He has two children: one boy and one girl.

Manal Abazeed is a Syria Civil Defense (SCD) volunteer in Daraa. She joined the White Helmets in April 2015 and specializes in public safety education and awareness. Her training covers explosive weapons, trauma counseling, and childbirth. In addition to her work with the White Helmets, Abazeed is also head of the Free Union of Women and works with young people. Before 2011, she worked as an accountant, but when the revolution broke out, she joined the peaceful protests and worked as the director of the media office of the General Committee of the Syrian Revolution in Deraa.

Faysal Itani is a senior fellow with the Atlantic Council's Rafik Hariri Center for the Middle East, where he focuses primarily on the Syrian conflict and its regional impact. Itani was born and grew up in Beirut, Lebanon and has lived and worked in several Arab countries. Before joining the Atlantic Council, he was a risk analyst advising governments, corporations, and international organizations on political, economic, and security issues in the Middle East. Itani has repeatedly briefed the United States government and its allies on the conflict in Syria and its effects on their interests. Itani holds an MA in strategic studies and international economics from the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies, a certificate in public policy from Georgetown University, and a BA in business from the American University of Beirut.