Syria rebel fighters seize 20 UN peacekeepers in the Golan Heights

3/07/2013
  • Armed rebel fighters in Syria have seized about 20 United Nations peace-keepers in the Golan Heights. Reports say, all the captives are from the Philippines. 

  • The UN Security Council has demanded their release. A video posted on the Internet showed gunmen standing by a stationary UN vehicle with peace-keepers inside.

  • The hostage-takers said, they had detained the staff to try to stop shelling by Syrian Government forces. The head of the main Syrian rebel group, the Free Syrian Army, Gen. Salim Edris, has condemned the abductions.
  • The United Nations Security Council has condemned the detention of UN peace-keepers by a group of fighters aligned with Syrian opposition in the Golan Heights disengagement zone between Syria and Israel.
  • Russia's UN ambassador Vitaly Churkin, said more than 20 peace-keepers had been taking supplies to a UN observation post when they were stopped by about 30 armed fighters. UN officials say, talks were underway with the rebels to secure the peace keepers' release.
  • The detention of peace-keepers comes the same day that the head of the rebels' Military Council pleaded with the international community to supply the Free Syrian Army with more weapons.
  • Some Western countries have been hesitant to provide the rebels with weapons fearing they might fall into the hands of extremists and groups linked to AL-Queda.
  • The British Foreign Secretary William Hague has said, Britain would increase aid to Syrian Opposition forces and even provide armored vehicles. He said, if a political solution of the crisis in Syria is not found and the conflict continues, Britain and the rest of the European Union will have to be ready to move further and not rule out any option for saving lives.
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