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Filipino peacekeepers safe from rebels, says UN

Posted on Sep 01 2014 | IANS

United Nations, Sep 1 : The United Nations Sunday confirmed that the Filipino contingent of its peacekeeping force in Syria's Golan Heights escaped from armed rebels to an alternate site and are safe.

"The United Nations Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF) confirms that the Filipino forces formerly surrounded by armed elements at Positions 68 and 69 have relocated to an alternate site and are safe," Xinhua quoted a UN spokesman as saying.

A total of 72 Filipino blue helmets came under renewed attacks from armed Syrian rebels Saturday as efforts were in full swing to ensure early and safe release of 44 UN peacekeepers from Fiji who were detained Thursday.

The troops are part of the UN observer force which has monitored the disengagement zone between Israel and Syria since 1974 following the 1973 Arab-Israeli war.

The attacks on and continuing detention of UN peacekeepers in the Golan Heights drew strong condemnation from UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who demanded the "unconditional and immediate" release of all the detained UN peacekeepers.

The attacks, which involved mortar and heavy machine gun fire from armed rebels, came amid increased fighting in the area between Syrian government forces and armed groups.

Elsewhere in the area of operation, UNDOF troops remain on high alert and continue to carry out their mandated tasks, the UN said.

"The 44 Fijian peacekeepers from Position 27 continue to be detained by armed elements," the spokesman noted.

On Friday, the spokesman told reporters here that the world body received assurances from "credible sources" that all the seized Fijian peacekeepers "are safe and in good health".

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