Saturday, 20 January 2018 10:40 GMT
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43 UN troops in Golan seized by militants

(MENAFN - Arab News) UNITED NATIONS: A group of 43 UN peacekeepers in the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights have been detained by militants fighting the Syrian army and the world body is working to secure their release the United Nations said on Thursday.

'During a period of increased fighting beginning yesterday between armed elements and Syrian Arab Armed Forces within the area of separation in the Golan Heights 43 peacekeepers from the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF) were detained early this morning by an armed group in the vicinity of Quneitra' the UN press office said in a statement.

An additional 81 peacekeepers were 'currently being restricted to their positions in the vicinity of Ar Ruwayhinah and Burayqah' it added.

No details were released on the nationalities of the detained peacekeepers but six countries are contributing to the 1200-strong unit: Fiji India Ireland Nepal Netherlands and the Philippines.

UN officials noted that the peacekeepers monitoring the armistice line between Israel and Syria were detained twice last year and released safely.

'The United Nations is making every effort to secure the release of the detained peacekeepers and to restore the full freedom of movement of the force throughout its area of operation' it added.

Israel closed off the area around Quneitra on Wednesday after an officer was wounded by stray fire as Syrian rebelsincluding fighters from the Al-Qaeda affiliate Al-Nusra front stormed the crossing.

In June 2013 there was a similar takeover of the crossing by rebel forces but the Syrian army managed to regain control.


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