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Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has hit out at the controversial nonprofit White Helmets, calling it a front for Islamic terrorism, and saying they are an example of Western narratives grotesquely distorting the truth about the conflict in the country.

“White Helmets are Al Qaeda members and that’s proven on the net” President al-Assad said during an interview with Russian journalists in Damascus. “The same members are killing or executing or celebrating over dead bodies, at the same time they are humanitarian heroes, and now they have an Oscar.”