UN peacekeepers held by Syria rebels reach Israel

Peacekeepers cross border into Israel from neighboring Jordan after they were released by rebels fighting to topple Assad.

UN peacekeepers held by Syria rebels 370 (photo credit: YouTube Screenshot)
UN peacekeepers held by Syria rebels 370
(photo credit: YouTube Screenshot)

UN peacekeepers held byrebels for three days in southern Syria and freed at the weekendcrossed into Israel from neighboring Jordan on Monday, amilitary spokeswoman said.

The spokeswoman would not comment, however, on a report byan Israeli newspaper that Israeli troops had later escorted the21 Filipino peacekeepers back to their base along the Syrianfrontier with the Golan Heights.

The peacekeepers, part of the UN Disengagement ObserverForce (UNDOF) that has monitored the ceasefire line betweenIsrael and Syria since 1974, were released on Saturday by rebelsfighting to topple Syrian President Bashar Assad and taken toJordan.

The men had been held in the village of Jamla, some 10 km (6miles) from the Jordanian border with Syria. The United Nationssaid they had been captured by 30 rebel fighters.

"I can confirm that they came into Israel today, fromJordan," the Israeli spokeswoman said of the freed peacekeepers.

It was not immediately clear why the peacekeepers would endup in Israel, but, logistically, it would be safe for them toreturn to their main command post via Israel.

The spokeswoman refused to comment on the report on theMaariv newspaper's website that Israeli soldiers had escortedthe Filipinos by bus from the Jordan border region to their basein the Golan.

The paper said that Israel, already worried about Syria'stwo-year civil war spilling across its border, was alsoconcerned that the incident with the peacekeepers might leadmember countries to pull troops out of UNDOF.

The peacekeepers have helped monitor an enduring thoughoften tense agreement brokered by the United States in 1974,under which Israel and Syria are allowed a limited number offorces within 20 km of a disengagement line in the Golan.

Israel captured the strategic Golan plateau from Syria in a1967 war and later annexed the territory.
There have been a number incidents in which shells fromSyria's civil war have landed in Israel since November, thelatest as recently as Saturday. None have caused any casualties.
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