News / Asia

Pressure Mounts for Release of UN Peacekeepers in Syria

A Filipino United Nations peacekeeper stands next to a U.N. vehicle before it crosses from Israel into Syria at the Kuneitra border crossing on the Golan Heights, March 5, 2013.
A Filipino United Nations peacekeeper stands next to a U.N. vehicle before it crosses from Israel into Syria at the Kuneitra border crossing on the Golan Heights, March 5, 2013.
VOA News
A Syrian opposition spokesman said that 21 United Nations peacekeepers being held by Syrian rebels soon will be freed.

Hisham Marwah, a spokesman for the Western-backed Syrian National Coalition, made the comments in Istanbul amid mounting international pressure to free the peacekeepers.

"These people [the 21 U.N. peacekeepers] will be released soon because they are not involved in any military action or any military operations," said Marwah.

Rami Abdul-Rahman, a spokesman for the London-based Syria Observatory for Human Rights, said he and others have told the rebel brigade that holding the peacekeepers is a mistake.

x
The peacekeepers are part of 1,000-plus force that patrols a zone between Israel and Syria in the Golan Heights. The U.N. troops were detained Wednesday by Syrian rebels who have identified themselves as the Martyrs of Yarmouk.

The Observatory posted video on the Internet showing some of the Filipino peacekeepers. One peacekeeper, who identified himself as a captain, said he and his men were safe.

"Civilian people helped us for our safety and distributed us in different places to keep us safe. They gave us good accommodation and gave us food to eat and water to drink,'' said an unidentified UN peacekeeper.

Both the U.N. and the Philippines have strongly condemned the seizure of the peacekeepers. U.N. officials have been negotiating with the rebel brigade's commanders for their release.

The Syrian Observatory's Abdul-Rahman said the rebel group is fighting for villages in the area and has been operating independently.

“They want the Syrian regime to stop attacking the area, to stop shelling the area, for that he [the brigade commander] stopped the United Nations monitors,” said Abdul-Rahman.

One of the concerns of Western countries trying to support the Syrian opposition has been a lack of political and military cohesion among rebel forces.

Abdul-Rahman said the rebel brigade's actions in the Golan are part of a worrying trend.

“We see the Syrian regime, they do many crimes in Syria. But now we report every day crime of the Syrian opposition, as well,” said Abdul-Rahman.

Seeking to solidify its strategies, the main Syrian opposition organization, the Syrian National Council, said Thursday it will meet next Tuesday in Istanbul to begin talks on forming a provisional government.

Meanwhile, the medical charity Medecins Sans Frontiers [MSF] criticized the government of President Bashar al-Assad Thursday for attacking doctors and hospitals.

It also warned rebel groups not to use medical faculties for cover or humanitarian aid shipments to help smuggle in weapons.

You May Like

Ebola Death Toll Nears 5,000 as Virus Advances

West Africa bears heaviest burden; Mali toddler’s death raises new fears More

Jordan’s Battle With Islamic State Militants Carries Domestic Risks

Despite Western concerns that IS militants are preparing a Jordanian offensive, analysts call the kingdom's solid intel a strong deterrent More

Asian-Americans Assume Office in Record Numbers

Steadily deepening engagement in local politics pays off for politicians like Chinese-American Judy Chu More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Anonymous
March 07, 2013 4:03 PM
what a revolting web site you are Voice of "America" ... more like voice of the Muslim brotherhood... disgrace !!!


by: JKF from: Ottawa, Canada
March 07, 2013 11:11 AM
A sad day when unarmed UN Observers are taken hostage, once again. The UN was warned about the growing instability; it should have taken proactive defensive actions to avoid this sit. Most UN missions have had this type of occurence, hard to understand why? the UNHQ does not take preventive actions to ensure the safety of its field staff, "LESSONS LEARNED" from past missions; a case of bad memory? The Gulf States, Turkey, and the opposition leadership, that provide help to/run the opposition figthers, should be involved in the negotiations for the release of the Observers. Such hostage taking greatly undermines the opposition and its command and control claims. I hope the unarmed observers are released soon and are in good condition.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukrainei
X
Al Pessin
October 25, 2014 4:21 PM
Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukraine

Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Comanche Chief Quanah Parker’s Century-Old House Falling Apart

One of the most fascinating people in U.S. history was Quanah Parker, the last chief of the American Indian tribe, the Comanche. He was the son of a Comanche warrior and a white woman who had been captured by the Indians. Parker was a fierce warrior until 1875 when he led his people to Fort Sill, Oklahoma, and took on a new, peaceful life. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Cache, Oklahoma, Quanah’s image remains strong among his people, but part of his heritage is in danger of disappearing.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.

All About America

AppleAndroid