Syria rebels besiege UN position near Golan Heights
Posted on Aug 31 2014 | IANS
Damascus, Aug 30 : Armed militant groups Saturday besieged a position of the UN peacekeepers in Syria's Qunaitera province, bordering the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights, a media report said.
Armed fighters of the Al Qaeda-linked Nusra Front besieged a headquarter of the UN Disengagement Observer Force ( UNDOF) at the town of Ruwayhinah in the countryside of Qunaitera, reported Xinhua citing the pan-Arab al-Mayadeen TV report.
It added that Filipinos peacekeepers in the besieged position clashed with the Nusra fighters.
Other reports said that one of the two Filipino peacekeepers' groups managed to flee to the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights while the other group is still struck in the UN position in Qunaitera under the Nusra attack.
The radical militant groups Thursday kidnapped 44 UN peacekeepers after seizing control over several areas in Qunaitera.
Since then, the Syrian troops have unleashed a counter- offensive to recapture the lost positions in Qunaitera.
UN officials declared that the kidnapped UN personnel were "safe and in good health" even though the "UNDOF has not yet had direct contact with these (kidnapped) peacekeepers."
Twenty-five Philippine peacekeepers serving with the UNDOF were detained by armed elements in March and May of 2013. They were released safely later.
Peacekeepers serving with the UNDOF monitor the 1974 disengagement accord between Syria and Israel after the 1973 war. As of July 31, there are 1,223 peacekeepers from six countries, including India, Fiji, Ireland, Nepal, the Netherlands, and the Philippines, serving in the force.
In June, the UN Security Council extended UNDOF's mandate for another six months until Dec. 31, 2014.