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Syrian Rebels Kidnap Over 20 UN Peacekeepers In Golan Heights

Matt Pressberg |
March 6, 2013 | 8:35 p.m. PST

Executive Producer

The Golan Heights are on the border of Syria and Israel. (FreedomHouse/Flickr)
The Golan Heights are on the border of Syria and Israel. (FreedomHouse/Flickr)
A Syrian rebel faction kidnapped more than 20 U.N. peacekeepers near the town of Jamlah in the Golan Heights ceasefire zone Wednesday and is threatening to keep them prisoner until forces loyal to the ruling regime of Bashar al-Assad leave a nearby village.

As Agence France-Presse reports, around 30 rebel fighters abducted the peacekeepers, who are nationals of the Philippines, as they were moving through the area as part of a U.N. Disengagement Force (UNDOF) supply convoy.

The U.N. quickly issued a statement calling for their “unconditional and immediate” release. The rebel group claiming to hold the peacekeepers, the Yarmuk Martyrs Brigade, released two videos laying out their demands and their issues with certain international actors currently engaged in Syria.

"In one, a man identified as Abu Kaid al-Faleh, a spokesman for the brigade, said the peacekeepers would not be freed until Syrian government forces pull back from the area.

'We call on them to withdraw all their troops to their bases. If they do not withdraw, these men (U.N. troops) will be treated as prisoners,' he said.

In a second video, the same spokesman accused the UNDOF of working with the army to try to suppress the insurgency and help regime forces enter Jamlah.

'The Syrian regime, the UN and the European countries are all collaborators with Israel,' he said"

The United States has thus far refrained from getting directly involved in the Syrian civil war, which has claimed over 70,000 lives. However, as Bloomberg reports, on a recent trip to the region, new Secretary of State John Kerry acknowledged that Arab allies of the U.S. are providing weapons, and Washington is aware of the types and destinations of these arms and is shaping its strategy accordingly.

Read more of Neon Tommy’s coverage of Syria here.

Reach Executive Producer Matt Pressberg here.



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