In May 2015, 25 of Syria's bravest men made their way to a 10-day training camp in southern Turkey. Each of them has a unique story as to why he joined the Syrian Civil Defence. We asked each of the men what he did before the war, as well as their most memorable story of saving a life.
Ziad Shaheen, 33. Firefighter. "I saved a baby whose father was trying to reach him. He was killed by a crumbling wall. The baby was safe in bed."
Zuhair Armanazi, 39. Blacksmith. "A teacher and three students were thrown out of their classroom, when the regime dropped a bomb on their school. I found a boy, about 11 years old, buried to the chest with rubble. I dug him out and saved him."
Ibrahim Alzoughpi, 28. Barber. "It was a bombing near a bakery. We responded and saved a 17-year-old lady with a head injury. Unfortunately, two of her brothers died in the attack."
Ibrahim Alzoughpi, 25. Blacksmith. "A street area was attacked with six missiles. We rescued two brothers, from a room deep inside the house and off the street. Their parents and other two brothers died, because they were in a room closer to the street."
Ahmed Zaidu, 33. Sculptor. "We were helping to evacuate people from Idlib, and a barrel bomb was dropped. We were able to rescue an entire family, including a mother and two children. We were able to save them all."
Mohammad Altouma, 22. First-year university student, studying mechanical aviation engineering. "The town square in my village was bombed by the regime. It hit my uncle's house. I rescued my aunt, uncle and 5-year-old girl cousin, but her two brothers were killed."
Abdul Kader Suleyman, 32. Farmer. "A month ago in Darkoush, the regime aircraft hit with two thermobaric missiles. We were able to save a 7-month-old girl, but her mother and father died. We were able to place her with her uncle."
Ahmad Khaleel, 47. Former military. "I responded, along with my team, to a thermobaric missile and barrel bombs. Three two-story buildings next to each other were destroyed. 22 people were killed, but I am proud that we were able to pull 6 people out alive, especially the children."
Husam Mudiratee, 27. Policeman. "A two-story building collapsed. We found an 11-year-old boy crouched in the corner, safe. It was the first life I rescued and if I never save another life, that will be enough."
Ali Hubeter, 49. Farmer. "We found two kids in the rubble in Ainsheeb. The two-year-old lost his leg. We thought he wouldn't make it, but he is alive!"
Siraj Aldeen Hassoun, 25. Construction. "There was a bombing in Sarmin. The roof of the second floor of a two-story building collapsed. I shouted, 'Is anybody here?' I heard movement, and found a man in a safe space, thanks to two big rocks on either side of him."
Mahmoud Altaifour, 23. Business management student. "I rescued a man from under a roof alive. When we got there to rescue him, we didn't have the proper equipment and we had to wait before we were able to pull him out. I even rode in the ambulance with him to the because I wanted to make sure he got the best doctor, but he died at the hospital."
Mohammad Danawer, 24. Was in his third year studying math at university. "The regime bombed a refugee camp. We saved so many people, but I mostly remember an old lady, who had an injured leg. It bothered me, because you should be safe at a refugee camp."
Abdulrahman Humaidi, 20. Carpenter. "I was in a village near Salqeen. A missile hit the upper floor of a building and it collapsed. We pulled a 40-year-old man out and his family was thanking us and hugging and kissing, until they realized that his wife and two children died in the attack." Abdulrahman has 4 brothers, all of whom have also joined the White Helmets.
Mohammad Faisal Hammade, 41. Ministry of Agriculture. "They dropped a thermobaric bomb in the village of Sinkar. It hit a house and divided into two parts, one destroyed and one not. I can't describe the feeling that came over me when we found a mother and two children alive, especially since we had such a hard time getting to them."
Yamen Yoused, 27. Construction. "Two days before I came to this course, I rescued a 2-year-old baby. His dad told me where he was trapped and buried. We went and found him alive, but his 14-year-old sister had died."
Mohammad Ata Rashwani, 44. Hospital administration. "We were in a village called Kastim and rescued a man whose entire lower half was buried. A missile hit a car outside the shop he was in. We took him to the hospital and he lived." Mohammad joined the White Helmets five days after his son was killed working the very same job.
Bilal Salloum, 29. Syrian Secret Service. "My whole village used to leave during the day and only come home at night to sleep. There was this old married couple, whose home was hit with a barrel bomb. They both lived, we saved them, and took them to the hospital."
Mahmoud Staify, 20. Was about to start high school. "Idlib was being heavily bombed when it got out from under regime control. We arrived at the end of a tunnel that was so small you could only move the dust with your hands. We found a 60-year-old man alive in the basement, and spent 6 hours getting him out."
Isa Mohammad Jalloul, 25. Policeman and law student. "We responded to a bombing in a small village and ran to the basement. It was full of 15 women and children. 13 were dead, but we were able to save two, a man and a woman both in their twenties."
Abdulkareem Qaddour, 20. Was in high school. "A barrel bomb dropped near my best friend. He had shrapnel in his head, neck and chest. I took him by ambulance to the hospital, but he died on his way to the operating room."
Ahmad Rahhal, 27. Policeman. "First, two of our guys went in for the rescue and were 'double tapped.' We went in to rescue them and searched for other survivors. We found three young girls alive and well, plus an infant, who unfortunately died at the hospital." Ahmad received a round of applause from the rest of the White Helmets when he announced he is getting married next week when he returns to Syria.
Fadi Ibrahim, 36. Carpet factory employee. "In my village, a man was stuck under the rubble. Three hours later, we got him out. This is someone that I know, walk by on the street and could've been dead."
Hussain Alassi, 25. Was about to start college. "We rescued a family of three in the village of Mazra, a little 6-year-old girl, plus her father and mother. It was a huge building, and the whole second floor had collapsed on the first. We finally found them, cut a hole in the wall and took them to the hospital."