Years Later, Celebrities Finally Get Behind Syria Group

A bunch of them are lobbying for the Nobel Peace Prize for the White Helmets
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 15, 2016 10:58 AM CDT
In this photo provided by the Syrian Civil Defense White Helmets, men stand in rubble after airstrikes hit eastern Aleppo, Syria, Friday, Sept. 9, 2016.   (Syrian Civil Defense White Helmets via AP)

(Newser) – The Syrian civil war has been going on for years, and celebrities are finally now getting involved. A number of them, including George Clooney, Ben Affleck, Justin Timberlake, and Zoe Saldana, have signed an open letter to the Nobel Peace Prize committee urging that this year's prize go to the Syria Civil Defense group, also known as the White Helmets. The volunteer rescue workers go to the scenes of airstrikes to render aid; they say they have pulled some 60,000 people from the rubble—alive. The New York Times wonders why it's taken celebrities so long to get involved in the conflict, and determines it probably has something to do with the "complicated nature of the conflict."

To that point, there are dozens of rebel groups involved in the conflict, some of which are linked to terrorist groups; the conflict has also been blamed for helping lead to the rise of ISIS. But one writer notes that there's no doubt the White Helmets are among the good guys, so that makes it easy for celebrities to get behind them. One Syrian asylum seeker who works with the campaign to get the US to act against the Assad regime notes that the celebrities could bring quite a bit of attention to the work of the White Helmets. "I have more faith in the devil than in politicians," he says. "But movie stars and celebrities don’t have elections to win, so they can say whatever they want or whatever they believe is right." (Read more Syria stories.)

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