UN peacekeepers apparently in hands of Syrian rebels near Golan crossing point

UN peacekeepers apparently in hands of Syrian rebels near Golan crossing point

[Ed. – Filipino peacekeepers got out safely but Fijians are unaccounted for.]

Thirty-two Philippine U.N. peacekeepers were rescued on Saturday from Islamists who fired at their post on the Syrian side of the Golan Heights and trapped them for two days, U.N. officials said, while militants reinforced their siege of another group of 40.

“The situation at Position 68 is calm but tense, as more than 200 militants have assembled around it in the last few hours,” a U.N. official said, referring to the place where the 40 Philippine peacekeepers were trapped.

A U.N. diplomatic source said earlier: “As we speak more rebels in more than 20 vehicles are approaching and reinforcing the siege around Position 68.” …

The peacekeeping troops are part of UNDOF, a U.N. force that has monitored the disengagement zone between Israel and Syria since 1974, following the 1973 Arab-Israeli war.

Earlier on Saturday, a Reuters cameraman spotted 11 U.N. armored vehicles returning to their base in Israeli-controlled territory about 12 hours after the peacekeepers came under fire at around 6 a.m. (11 p.m. ET). …

“The U.N. peacekeepers returned fire and prevented the attackers from entering the position,” it said. Officials in the Philippines said a total of 72 soldiers had been trapped.

Separately, 44 UNDOF peacekeepers from Fiji were detained by militants 8 km (5 miles) away from the Philippine troops on Thursday and remain missing. …

A commander with the Islamist Nusra Front, a group linked to al Qaeda, told Reuters the Fijian peacekeepers had been detained because UNDOF was aiding the government of President Bashar al-Assad and had ignored the suffering of the Syrian people.

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