BEIRUT - Syrian rebels said on Tuesday they were holding a group of Filipino UN peacekeepers on the ceasefire line between Syria and the Golan Heights after clashes in the area had put them in danger.

The Yarmouk Martyrs Brigade made the announcement in a statement on its Facebook page, accompanied by a picture of four peacekeepers wearing light-blue UN flak jackets marked "Philippines."

At the United Nations, a spokeswoman said four peacekeepers had been detained as they patrolled close to an area where 21 Filipino observers were detained for three days in March.

Spokeswoman Josephine Guerrero said they were taken at Position 86, near the southern end of the narrow "area of separation" between Syrian and Israeli forces.

The Yarmouk Martyrs rebels said they "carried out an operation to secure and protect elements of the United Nations operating in the Yarmouk Valley ... during clashes and heavy shelling in the region".

They said the heavy presence of Assad's forces posed a danger to the peacekeepers, as well as "criminal elements" in the area.

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