News / Middle East

    Four UN Peacekeepers Seized in Syria

    Margaret Besheer
    The United Nations says four of its peacekeepers were abducted Tuesday by armed men in the Golan Heights. It is the second time in as many months that peacekeepers have been kidnapped in the Golan.

    The U.N. says efforts are underway to secure the release of the four men, who are from the Philippines.

    U.N. spokesman Martin Nesirky says the group that has claimed responsibility for the abduction, the Brigades of Yarmouk, also abducted 21 Filipino peacekeepers in early March.

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    “This is the same group responsible for the last incident of this nature. We have limited details at this stage. And in the interest of the safety of the peacekeepers, above all, we have to limit what we are saying publicly at the moment,” Nesirky said.

    The U.N.'s Department of Peacekeeping says the men were detained while patrolling in what is known as the Area of Separation on the Syrian side near the southwestern town of Al Jamla.

    • Rebel fighters of the Syrian Kurdish Popular Protection Units (YPG) talk in the Sheikh Maqsoud neighborhood of Aleppo, May 9, 2013.
    • A view shows damaged buildings and debris in the Khaldiyeh district of Homs, May 9, 2013.
    • Syrian children play near a water distribution point in the Almyassar central district of Aleppo, May 8, 2013.
    • A Free Syrian Army fighter holds his weapon in Raqqa province, east Syria, May 6, 2013.
    • A Free Syrian Army fighter stands behind a pile of sandbags in Raqqa province, east Syria, May 6, 2013.
    • Free Syrian Army fighters prepare to head toward the front line in the al-Ziyabiya area, Damascus, May 5, 2013.
    • An armored vehicle is seen parked as Free Syrian Army fighters gather on a street in the refugee camp of Yarmouk, near Damascus, May 5, 2013.
    • This image taken from video obtained from the Ugarit News shows smoke and fire filling the the skyline after an Israeli airstrike, Damascus, May 5, 2013.
    • This photo released by the Syrian official news agency SANA shows damaged buildings wrecked by an Israeli airstrike in Damascus, May 5, 2013.
    • This image provided by ENN shows a protester with a sign reading "If America does not know who used the chemical weapons, so it could be flying saucers from another planet," Sarmada, Idlib, Syria, May 3, 2013.
    • A man reacts after his grandson was injured during what activists said was shelling by forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, Raqqa province, Syria, May 2, 2013. 
    • Residents inspect a damaged building that was shelled by forces activists say were loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, Raqqa province, Syria, May 2, 2013.
    • This photo released by the Syrian official news agency SANA shows Syrian President Bashar al-Assad visiting the Umayyad Electrical Station, Damascus, Syria, May 1, 2013.


    In a statement, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon strongly condemned the abduction and called for the peacekeepers' immediate release.

    About 1,000 lightly armed peacekeepers have patrolled a separation zone in the Golan Heights since 1974, monitoring a cease-fire between Israel and Syria.  

    The mostly quiet area has become more dangerous in recent months as the Syrian conflict grows, calling into question the mission's ability to operate.

    In March, 21 peacekeepers were seized in the Golan by Syrian rebels and later released. There has also been shelling in the area, making it difficult and dangerous for the U.N. observers to carry out their mandate.

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    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: Melaree Bonn from: Austria
    May 07, 2013 2:29 PM
    the UN has become a sad farce... it must be abolished and a new International Organization of Democratic Countries must substitute for the UN.

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