Quantcast
  

Wednesday, April 23, 2014         

 Print   Email   Comment | View 0 Comments   Most Popular   Save   Post   Retweet

Philippines: Syrian rebels fail to free peacekeepers

By Oliver Teves

Associated Press

POSTED:
LAST UPDATED: 04:57 a.m. HST, Mar 08, 2013


MANILA » The Philippine government said Syrian rebels failed to release 21 Filipino U.N. peacekeepers Friday (Thursday in Hawaii) and stuck to their demands for repositioning of Syrian government forces before any handover.

The 21 peacekeepers were seized Wednesday near the Syrian village of Jamlah, just a kilometer (less than a mile) from the Israeli-controlled Golan Heights, where the U.N. force has patrolled a cease-fire line between Israel and Syria for nearly four decades.

The spokesman for the Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs, Raul Hernandez, said the rebels had been expected to free the peacekeepers early Friday.

"I don't know exactly know what happened, why the expected release did not happen, but the demand is still there" for the Syrian forces to pull back, he told reporters in Manila.

He said that the Philippine government continues to "work with all stakeholders for the expeditious release of our Filipino U.N. peacekeepers."

The rebels demand that Syrian troops pull back from the area around Jamlah, the village near the Golan Heights, which Israel captured from Syria in the 1967 Mideast war. U.N. peacekeepers have been monitoring the armistice line since 1974.

Last week, rebels from the Martyrs of the Yarmouk Brigades, the group that is holding the peacekeepers, overran several Syrian army checkpoints in the area, said Rami Abdul-Rahman, head or the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

However, there are still regime positions nearby because of the strategic importance of the area. Rebels apparently fear that the regime will push to retake the territory if the peacekeepers are released, raising the possibility of a prolonged standoff.

The peacekeepers said in videos posted online that they were being treated well.

"To our family, we hope to see you soon and we are OK here," said a peacekeeper shown in one video. He was one of three troops dressed in camouflage and blue bullet-proof vests emblazoned with the words U.N. and Philippines.

However, a rebel spokesman seemed to suggest the hostages were also serving as human shields. If the U.N. troops are released and leave the area, the regime could kill "as many as 1,000 people," said the spokesman, who spoke via Skype and did not give his name for fear of reprisals.

Associated Press writer Karin Laub in Beirut, Lebanon, contributed to this report.







 Print   Email   Comment | View 0 Comments   Most Popular   Save   Post   Retweet

COMMENTS
(0)
You must be subscribed to participate in discussions
By participating in online discussions you acknowledge that you have agreed to the TERMS OF SERVICE. An insightful discussion of ideas and viewpoints is encouraged, but comments must be civil and in good taste, with no personal attacks. Because only subscribers are allowed to comment, we have your personal information and are able to contact you. If your comments are inappropriate, you may receive a warning, and if you persist with such comments you may be banned from posting. To report comments that you believe do not follow our guidelines, email commentfeedback@staradvertiser.com.
Leave a comment

Please login to leave a comment.
IN OTHER NEWS
Breaking News
Blogs