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

Video On the Scene: In Gaza, Darkness Brings Dread and Death

Palestinians fear nighttime raids, many feel abandoned by outside world, VOA's Scott Bobb reports More

African Small Farmers Could Be Key to Ending Food Insecurity

Experts say providing access to microloans, crop insurance, better storage facilities, irrigation, road systems and market information could enable greater production More

University of Michigan Wins Solar Car Race

Squad guided its student-designed solar-powered vehicle to fifth consecutive time victory in eight-day bi-annual American Solar Challenge 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.
Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spati
X
Reasey Poch
July 28, 2014 7:18 PM
China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spat

China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video ESA Spacecraft to Land on a Comet

After a long flight through deep space, a European Space Agency probe is finally approaching its target -- a comet millions of kilometers away from earth. Scientists say the mission may lead to some startling discoveries about the origins of the water on earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Young Africans Arrive in US for Leadership Program

President Barack Obama's Young African Leadership Initiative has brought hundreds of young Africans to the United States for a six-week program aimed at building their knowledge and skills in fields such as public administration and business. Out of the 50,000 young Africans who applied for the program, just one percent was accepted. VOA's Laurel Bowman caught up with some of those who made the cut and has this report.
Video

Video In Honduras, Amnesty Rumors Fuel US Migration Surges

False rumors in Central America are fueling the current surge of undocumented young people being apprehended at the U.S. border. The inaccurate claims suggest the U.S. will give amnesty to young migrants from the region. As VOA's Brian Padden reports from Honduras, these rumors trace back to President Obama's 2012 executive order to halt deportations for some young undocumented immigrants already living in the United States.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid