13 August, 2017
Seven members of Syria's White Helmets rescue service - also known as the Syrian Civil Defence - were shot dead during a raid on their base in a militant-stronghold.
The attackers stole two vehicles and other equipment in the incident targeting a civil defense office in the town of Sarmin at dawn.
Some reports have claimed one of the men killed in Saturday's attack is a volunteer who featured in one of the group's most moving rescues. Idlib province in northwestern Syria is controlled by Syrian rebels groups.
The White Helmets emerged in 2013. Al-Qaida's partner, which utilized by to be known as the Nusra Front, has battled destructive fights with IS over the previous years.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the seven volunteers had all been killed by bullets to the head.
"Until now it is mostly likely a crime. It may likewise be an assault expected to hurt the picture of the Nusra Front and to demonstrate that Idlib is not protected", said Rami Abdurrahman who heads the Observatory.
An opposition activist based in Idlib who has been providing The Associated Press with information about the province for years said the attackers used pistols equipped with silencers, adding that people living nearby did not notice anything unusual.
The dissident, who asked that his name not be utilized inspired by a paranoid fear of backlashes, said IS sleeper cells have been found in Sarmin.
The extremist said the HTS-connected Judicial Committee is examining the case.
The rescue organization shared a brief statement on Twitter, confirming the deaths of the volunteers at the group's operations center in the city of Sarmin on Saturday morning.
The Syrian specialists on call have been known to hazard their lives to spare individuals from the common war, now in its 6th year.
The civil defense, otherwise known as the "White Helmets", operates in rebel-held areas of Syria.
They have since gained global renown for their daring rescues, often filmed and circulated on social media, and were nominated for the 2016 Nobel Peace Prize.
Although its volunteers work in exclusively rebel-held areas, the group insists it is not partisan. Since they are funded by a number of Western governments, Syrian president Bashar al-Assad and his Russian allies often accuse them of supporting rebels and terrorists, as well as being "tools of their worldwide donors".