Syrian rebels free four UN peacekeepers

Philippine foreign minister Albert del Rosario confirmed that the four had been released. Picture: Getty
Philippine foreign minister Albert del Rosario confirmed that the four had been released. Picture: Getty
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Syrian rebels have freed four Filipino UN peacekeepers whom they had captured on the ceasefire line between Syria and the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights last week.

The rebels from the Yarmouk Martyrs’ Brigade had said they were holding the soldiers for their own safety after clashes with Syrian government forces had put them in danger.

A rebel spokesman said the four were handed over yesterday morning at a border checkpoint called Beit Ara, in an area where the Jordanian and Israeli borders join with the Golan Heights.

“They have been handed over in a spot in the Yarmouk Valley,” Abu Iyas al-Horani said.

Philippine foreign minister Albert del Rosario confirmed that the four had been released. They were seized last Tuesday as they patrolled close to an area where the same rebel group held 21 Filipino observers for three days in March.

The Philippines said it aimed to pull out 342 soldiers on peacekeeping duties in Golan after the latest abduction.

Israel captured the Golan Heights in the 1967 Middle East War and later annexed them, a move not recognised internationally.