A UN peacekeeper from Fiji is seen through a bus window in the Golan Heights, Israel, before crossing into Syria on August 31st, 2014..
(photo credit: REUTERS)
The al-Nusra front is threatening to put the 44 captive Fijian UNDOF troops on trial under Islamic Shari’a law if demands are not met, said the head of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, Rami Abdul Rahman to London paper Asharq al-Awsat.
The UN troops were kidnapped on August 28 from the Golan Heights' UN-patrolled demilitarized zone when terrorists from the al-Qaida-linked group overran a crossing near the abandoned town of Quneitra.
Syrian government troops and rebels had already been engaged in fighting in the area for days when the kidnapping happened. Terrorists also captured 72 UN troops from the Philippines around the same time as the Fijians' kidnapping, though the Filipino troops managed to escape into safety in Israel.
Al-Nusra is demanding a series of conditions in order to release the captive UNDOF troops, including the group's removal from the UN's list of global terror organizations, and monetary compensation for members killed in fighting, said Brigadier-General Mosese Tikoitoga, head of Fiji's army.
This is the third time in two years that UNDOF troops have been seized on the Syrian side of the disengagement zone, a measure of the instability since the uprising against Syrian President Bashar Assad began. Until then, UNDOF had been one of the quietest UN peacekeeping posts anywhere in the world.
Reuters contributed to this report.