UN troops under fire in Syria said to be fleeing to Israel

United Nations peacekeepers reportedly fleeing across border into Israel, amid clashes with rebels in Golan Heights buffer zone.

By JPOST.COM STAFF, REUTERS
August 30, 2014 15:03
1 minute read.
UN peacekeeping soldiers drive past an observation tower near the Quneitra border crossing

UN peacekeeping tank on golan heights 370. (photo credit: REUTERS)

 
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United Nations peacekeepers stationed on the Syrian side of the Golan Heights buffer zone were fleeing the embattled country on Saturday and heading towards Israeli territory, according to Al Jazeera. The report said UN troops were abandoning their posts following attacks by militant rebels in the area.

It was not clear how many UN forces have left their posts or from what nationality they were.

The report comes after clashes broke out between a group of Philippine peacekeepers trapped in the Golan Heights and Islamist militants who were surrounding their position.

According to the defense chief of the Philippines, Voltaire Gazmin, some 40 Philippine troops manning one of two camps on the Syrian side of the frontier came under attack.

Another defense official said all the Philippine troops were safe.

A further 35 troops were at another site, about 4 km away but were not engaged in the clashes.

The troops are part of UNDOF, a UN force that has monitored the disengagement zone between Israel and Syria since 1974 in the wake of the 1973 Arab-Israeli war.

44 Fijian UNDOF peacekeepers seized by al-Qaida-linked militants this week along the rocky frontier between Syria and the Golan Heights are still unaccounted for. They were captured from their post about eight kilometers away from the Philippine troops.

"There was a firefight but I would like to assure everyone that our troops are safe at the moment," said Ramon Zagala, chief of the Armed Forces public affairs office. He did not give any more details.

Australia was the latest country to criticize the detention of 44 UN peacekeepers by Syrian rebels and called for their release.

In a statement issue on Saturday, Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said that "as a member of the UN Security Council, Australia demands the unconditional and immediate release of all the detained United Nations peacekeepers."

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