Lull in Syria shelling could allow UN monitors' release

March 9, 2013 11:26


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BEIRUT - Shelling has subsided around the southern Syrian village where 21 Filipino peacekeepers have been held by rebels for three days, the head of a violence monitoring group said on Saturday, paving the way for their possible release.

The peacekeepers - part of the UN Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF), which has been monitoring a ceasefire line between Syria and Israel in the Golan Heights since 1974 - were seized by the Martyrs of Yarmouk rebel brigade on Wednesday.

They have been held in the village of Jamla, one mile (1.6 km) from Israeli Golan. After their capture, rebels described them as "guests" and said they would be freed once President Bashar Assad's forces pull back from around Jamla and stop shelling.

Rami Abdulrahman, head of the Britain-based Syrian Obervatory for Human Rights, said the area around Jamla was relatively quiet on Saturday morning. But there was no sign that efforts to rescue the peacekeepers were under way.

The United Nations and the Observatory said late on Friday that a two-hour truce had been agreed from 10 am to noon (0800 to 1000 GMT) during which the peacekeepers may be rescued.

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