Philippine UNDOF troops escape to Israeli side
A group of Philippine UNDOF (United Nations Disengagement Observer Force) peacekeepers that was captured by Syrian rebels has escaped to Israel
. (The picture is from over a year ago).
Thirty-two UN peacekeepers were rescued from Islamist militants who had fired on their post on the Syrian side of the Golan Heights on Saturday, the United Nations said.
Another group of UN soldiers - also from the Philippines - remained trapped by the Islamists who surrounded their positions on Thursday, and a gun battle was ongoing, the UN press office said.
A Reuters cameraman spotted 11 UN armored vehicles returning to their base in Israeli-controlled territory about 12 hours after the peacekeepers came under fire at around 6 a.m. (0400 GMT) on Saturday.
"All 32 Filipino personnel from this position have been extricated and are now safe," the United Nations press office said in a statement issued in New York.
The remaining troops, at a separate border post, were still under mortar and heavy machine gun fire, the statement said.
"The UN peacekeepers returned fire and prevented the attackers from entering the position," it said. Officials in the Philippines have said there were a total of 72 soldiers trapped in the area.
Another 44 UNDOF peacekeepers, from Fiji, were detained by militants 8 km (5 miles) away from the Philippine troops on Thursday and remain missing.
Arutz Sheva adds
According to reports in Syria, dozens of UN peacekeepers from the
Philippines who had been holed up in two military positions in the
Syrian Golan escaped io Israel Saturday. The border gates were opened up
to let them in.
They had been surrounded by Syrian rebels from the Nusra Front.
Filipino UN peacekeepers in the Golan Heights clashed with
Syrian rebels Saturday, Defense Minister Voltaire Gazmin said in Manila.
He said in an SMS statement to reporters that the Filipino troops had
been "extricated" from one of their two positions but added that
another group of Filipino soldiers "is now under attack".
He was referring to two positions on the Golan Heights where more
than 70 Filipino troops had previously been surrounded by Syrian rebels.
The peacekeepers were besieged by rebels on Thursday but defied
demands that they give up their weapons. On Friday Syrian fighters took
43 Fijian soldiers hostage on the Golan Heights.
Asked if there was a fresh firefight Saturday, Gazmin replied: "Yes".
He said the clash took place at "6am, Syria time," but added that "morale is high" among the troops.
Military spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Ramon Zagala later told AFP that "there is still an ongoing standoff but there was a firefight earlier today".
"All our troops are safe," he said, adding that the defense minister
and head of the military were monitoring developments. He declined to
elaborate further on the incident.
The Fijians are the ones who are really in trouble. They gave up their weapons.
Labels: al-Qaeda, Fiji, Golan Heights, Nusra Front, Philippines, Syrian uprising, UNDOF, United Nations