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UN says detained peacekeepers in Syria are 'safe'

Published on Aug 30, 2014 9:03 AM
A member of the UN Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF) at an observation post in the Golan Heights that overlooks the Syrian side of the Qunietra crossing on Aug 28, 2014. -- PHOTO: REUTERS

UNITED NATIONS, United States (AFP) - UN officials have received assurances that 44 peacekeepers detained by Syrian rebels in the Golan Heights are safe and in good health, a UN spokesman said on Friday.

Syrian armed fighters, including some linked to the Al-Qaeda affiliate Al-Nusra Front, stormed a Golan Heights crossing on Wednesday, taking 44 troops from Fiji who were forced to surrender their weapons. The rebels surrounded another group of 72 soldiers from the Philippines serving in the UN Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF) that is tasked with monitoring a ceasefire between Syria and Israel since 1974.

The United Nations did not say whether the 44 Fijian soldiers had been released, but a statement suggested progress was being made in negotiations to secure their freedom.

"The United Nations has received assurances from credible sources that 44 peacekeepers from UNDOF who were taken from their position... are safe and in good health," said a statement from the spokesman. "UNDOF has not yet had direct contact with the peacekeepers."

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