News / Middle East

    UN Suspends for Day Efforts to Release Peacekeepers in Syria

    United Nations peacekeepers put on protective gear before driving through the Kuneitra border crossing between Israel and Syria, in the Israeli occupied Golan Heights, March 8, 2013.
    United Nations peacekeepers put on protective gear before driving through the Kuneitra border crossing between Israel and Syria, in the Israeli occupied Golan Heights, March 8, 2013.
    Margaret Besheer
    Efforts to release 21 U.N. peacekeepers held by armed elements of the Syrian opposition were suspended Friday, as darkness made it unsafe for a hoped for release to happen.
     
    Peacekeeping Chief Hervé Ladsous told reporters earlier Friday that there was the possibility of a brief cease-fire Friday to allow for the release of the Philippine observers from the U.N. Disengagement Observer Force, known as UNDOF.
     
    The lightly armed observers were stopped and seized by a group of some 30 armed fighters in the area of separation between Israel and Syria on Wednesday, near the Syrian town of Jamla, which has been subjected to intense shelling by the Syrian army in recent days.
     
    A U.N. peacekeeping spokesperson said arrangements were made with all parties to release the 21 observers. A team from the U.N. mission was sent to the location, but due to the late hour and nightfall it was considered unsafe to continue the operation. The spokesperson said efforts would continue Saturday.
     
    Earlier, peacekeeping chief Ladsous told reporters that the men are safe and being held in four or five different locations in Jamla, as the U.N. worked to secure their release.

    “Needless to say, if that were to happen, as we all hope, we would strongly expect that there would not be retaliatory action by the Syrian armed forces over the village and its civilian population after our people have left,” said Ladsous.
     
    • This citizen journalism image provided by Aleppo Media Center, AMC, shows anti-Syrian regime protesters in Bustan Al-Qasr, Aleppo, Syria, March 8, 2013.
    • A United Nations armored car drives through a gate at a U.N. base near the Kuneitra border crossing between Israel and Syria, in the Golan Heights, March 8, 2013.
    • A member of the Free Syrian Army fires his weapon in Deir al-Zor, Syria, March 7, 2013.
    • A father and son cook kebabs for residents in the city of Deir Ezzor on March 4, 2013. Once a thriving hub of Syria's oil industry, Deir Ezzor is now a ghost town of only a few thousand people.
    • A statue of Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad's father, Hafez Al-Assad, is pulled down as people celebrate in Raqqa, March 4, 2013.
    • A Free Syrian Army fighter stands atop an armored personnel carrier captured from forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, Aleppo, March 4, 2013.
    • Forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad applaud after being briefed in preparation for an offensive in the northern city of Aleppo, March 4, 2013.
    • A rebel aims his weapon during clashes with government forces near Aleppo international airport, Syria, March 4, 2013.
    • Sandbags are piled at the ancient Castle of Homs, March 4, 2013.
    • A member of the Popular Protection Units stands guard at a check point near Qamishli, Syria, March 3, 2013.
    • Free Syrian Army fighters pose next to bodies in Homs, March 3, 2013.

    Syria’s U.N. ambassador, Bashar Jaafari, disputed the accusation that government forces are shelling the area where the Philippine peacekeepers are being held.

    “The shelling is targeting the suburbs of the villages where the armed groups are concentrated. We know for sure what we are doing and we know where the peacekeepers are,” said Jaafari.
     
    There are slightly more than 1,000 U.N. troops in the Golan Heights, where the U.N. has monitored a cease-fire between Israel and Syria since 1974.
     
    Croatia already has announced plans to withdraw its 100 observers from the mission, leaving only Austria, India and the Philippines to staff the force.
     
    Ladsous said the United Nations is looking at how its Golan mission will operate in light of the deteriorating security situation on the ground.

    You May Like

    Candidates' Comments Fly Like New Hampshire Snowflakes

    Four days ahead of the country's first-in-the-nation Republican and Democratic party primary elections, surveys show the parties' contests tightening

    South Korea Says North Korea Moving Closer to Rocket Launch

    Pyongyang had notified International Maritime Organization and ITU of plan to launch 'Earth observation satellite' between Feb. 8 and Feb. 25, but has now changed the dates

    Australian Commander: IS Changing Tactics

    Head of Australian forces in Middle East talks with VOA about training Iraqi troops, countering evolving Islamic State efforts and defeating extremism

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibiti
    X
    Hamada Elsaram
    February 05, 2016 4:30 PM
    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.
    Video

    Video Genius Lets World Share Its Knowledge

    Inspired by crowdsourcing companies like Wikipedia, Genius allows anyone to edit anything on the web, using its web annotation tool
    Video

    Video Former Drug CEO Martin Shkreli Angers US Lawmakers

    A former U.S. pharmaceutical business executive has angered lawmakers by refusing to explain why he raised the price of a life-saving pill by 5,000 percent. Martin Shkreli was removed from a congressional hearing on Thursday after citing his Fifth Amendment right to stay silent. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Super Bowl TV Commercials are Super Business for Advertisers

    The Super Bowl, the championship clash between the two top teams in American Football, is the most-watched sporting event of the year, and advertisers are lining up and paying big bucks to get their commercials on the air. In fact, the TV commercials during the Super Bowl have become one of the most anticipated and popular features of the event. VOA's Brian Allen has a sneak peek of what you can expect to see when the big game goes to commercial break, and the real entertainment begins.
    Video

    Video In Philippines, Mixed Feelings About Greater US Military Presence

    In the Philippines, some who will be directly affected by a recent Supreme Court decision clearing the way for more United States troop visits are having mixed reactions.  The increased rotations come at a time when the Philippines is trying to build up its military in the face of growing maritime assertiveness from China.  From Bahile, Palawan on the coast of the South China Sea, Simone Orendain has this story.
    Video

    Video Microcephaly's Connection to Zika: Guilty Until Proven Innocent

    The Zika virus rarely causes problems for the people who get it, but it seems to be having a devastating impact on babies whose mothers are infected with Zika. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
    Video

    Video Solar Innovation Provides Cheap, Clean Energy to Kenya Residents

    In Kenya, a company called M-Kopa Solar is providing clean energy to more than 300,000 homes across East Africa by allowing customers to "pay-as-you-go" via their cell phones. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from Kangemi, customers pay a small deposit for a solar unit and then pay less than a dollar a day to get clean energy to light up their homes or businesses.
    Video

    Video Stunning Artworks Attract Record Crowds, Thanks to Social Media

    A new exhibit at the oldest art museum in America is shattering attendance records. Thousands of visitors are lining up to see nine giant works of art that have gotten a much-deserved shot of viral marketing. The 150-year-old Smithsonian American Art Museum has never had a response quite like this. VOA's Julie Taboh reports.
    Video

    Video Apprenticeships Put Americans on Path Back to Work

    Trying to get more people into the U.S. workforce, the Obama administration last year announced $175 million in grants towards apprenticeship programs. VOA White House correspondent Aru Pande went inside one training center outside of Washington that has gained national recognition for helping put people on the path to employment.
    Video

    Video New Material May Reduce Concussion Effects

    As the 2016 National Football League season reaches its summit at the Super Bowl this coming Sunday (2/7), scientists are trying to learn how to more effectively protect football players from dangerous and damaging concussions. Researchers at Cardiff and Cambridge Universities say their origami-based material may solve the problem. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Saudi Arabian Women's Sports Chip Away at Stereotypes

    Saudi Arabian female athletes say that sports are on the front line of busting traditions that quash women’s voices, both locally and internationally. In their hometown of Jeddah, a group of basketball players say that by connecting sports to health issues, they are encouraging women and girls to get out of their homes and participate in public life. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.
    Video

    Video A Year Later, Fortunes Mixed for Syrians Forging New Lives in Berlin

    In April of last year, VOA followed the progress of six young Syrian refugees -- four brothers and their two friends -- as they made their way from Libya to Italy by boat, and eventually to Germany. Reporter Henry Ridgwell caught up with the refugees again in Berlin, as they struggle to forge new lives amid the turmoil of Europe's refugee crisis.
    Video

    Video Zika Virus May be Hard to Stop

    With the Zika virus spreading rapidly, the World Health Organization Monday declared Zika a global health emergency. As Alberto Pimienta reports, for many governments and experts, the worst is yet to come.