UN urges release of peacekeepers in Syria

UN Secretary-General Ban condemns detention of four UNDOF peacekeepers by Yarmouk Martyrs Brigade.

May 7, 2013 19:24
1 minute read.
Photo of detained peacekeepers released by Syrian rebels, May 7, 2013

Photo of detained peacekeepers released by Syrian rebels 150. (photo credit: YouTube Screenshot)

UNITED NATIONS - UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon strongly condemned on Tuesday the detention of four UN peacekeepers monitoring the ceasefire line between Syria and the Golan Heights and called for their immediate release, his spokesman said.

"The Secretary-General calls on all parties to respect UNDOF's (the UN Disengagement Observer Force) freedom of movement and safety and security," Ban's spokesman Martin Nesirky told reporters.

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Syrian rebel group, the Yarmouk Martyrs Brigade, said earlier on Tuesday they were holding the four Filipino peacekeepers 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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