A mysterious blast in the northwestern Hama countryside claimed the lives of at least three members of the White Helmets organization late on December 13.
The three killed persons, who were members of the White Helmets’ unexploded ordnance (UXO) team, were identified as Muhammad Naqooh, Saleh Arafat, and Ahmad al-Hallak.
In a short statement, the White Helmets claimed that the three men were killed while working to secure a location that was recently targeted by Syrian government forces.
“[They] were killed instantly after a landmine exploded while they working on securing a target location this evening, in Qastoun village in [north] western Hama,” the statement reads.
Contrary to the organization’s claims, a source familiar with the incident told Sputnik that the White Helmets members were killed while transporting explosives to the governorate of Idlib.
“The explosion was large, it immediately killed the three members and completely destroyed their vehicle,” the source said.
Russia and Syria had accused the White Helmets, which are receiving support from the UK, the U.S. and other Western states, of collaborating with al-Qaeda-affiliated Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS).
Last November, the organization’s founder James Le Mesurier, an ex British officer, was found dead near his apartment in Istanbul in what was described as an “apparent suicide.”