News / Middle East

UN Peacekeepers Seized in Syria's Golan Heights

An image taken from a video uploaded on YouTube on March 6, 2013 allegedly shows armed fighters standing in front of a United Nations Disengagement Force (UNDOF) vehicle in the Golan Heights between Syria and Israel. (AFP/YouTube)
An image taken from a video uploaded on YouTube on March 6, 2013 allegedly shows armed fighters standing in front of a United Nations Disengagement Force (UNDOF) vehicle in the Golan Heights between Syria and Israel. (AFP/YouTube)
TEXT SIZE - +
VOA News
United Nations peacekeepers have been detained by armed men in Syria, near the disengagement zone with Israel.

A U.N. spokesman said a group of about 20 peacekeepers was seized in the Golan Heights. He said the peacekeepers had been taking supplies to a U.N. observation post when they were stopped by a group of about 30 armed fighters.

The U.N. is sending a team to investigate. Reuter news agency has reported that videos posted to YouTube show Syrian rebels with the U.N. supply convoy.

The seizure of the peacekeepers comes on the same day that the head of the rebels' military council pleaded with the international community to supply the Free Syrian Army with more weapons.

General Salim Idriss told a news conference in Brussels, Belgium "the [Assad] regime is using very heavy weapons. Long distance artillery, surface-to-surface missiles, Scud missiles."

General Salim Idriss, head of the Free Syrian Army Supreme Military Council said, "We in the Free Syrian Army need, and it is very clearly to say, we need weapons and ammunition to stop [the] killing, to defend ourselves and to defend, to defend our citizens."

Some Western countries have been hesitant to provide the rebels with weapons for fear they might fall into the hands of extremists and groups linked to al-Qaida. But Britain said Wednesday it would increase aid to Syrian opposition forces and even provide armored vehicles.

British Foreign Secretary William Hague said, "In our view if a political solution to the crisis in Syria is not found and the conflict continues, we and the rest of the European Union will have to be ready to move further and we should not rule out any option for saving lives."

The Arab League Wednesday issued a statement saying member states are free to provide military aid to forces fighting against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. The league has until now put an emphasis on humanitarian aid.

Earlier Wednesday, the United Nations said the number of refugees from Syria's two-year conflict has reached one million, while millions more people are displaced inside Syria.

The U.N. refugee agency chief, Antonio Guterres, said that Syria is "spiraling towards full-scale disaster."

Most of the refugees have gone to Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey, Iraq and Egypt, where those governments are straining to meet their needs.  

UNHCR spokeswoman Sybella Wilkes said many arrive with no possessions, and that the number is increasing far faster than expected.

“We have seen an unrelenting flow of Syrian refugees - pretty much since the middle of last year," she said. "But, since the beginning of this year, we have had an average of 7,000 Syrian refugees crossing the border every single day. They have come at double the rate we anticipated. In December, we put out a plan for $1 billion where we anticipated that over one million would arrive by the end of June. They have now have arrived at the beginning of March."

The U.N. refugee agency said it has received only a quarter of the funds it needs for humanitarian operations.

You May Like

Multimedia Relatives of South Korean Ferry Victims Fire at Authorities

36 people are confirmed dead, but some 270 remain trapped on board More

War Legacy Haunts Vietnam, US Relations

$84 million project aims to clean up soil contaminated by Agent Orange More

Wikipedia Proves Useful for Tracking Flu

Technique gave better results than Center for Disease Control (CDC) and Google’s Flu Trends More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politicsi
X
Michael Eckels
April 19, 2014
There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politics

There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Face of American Farmer is Changing

The average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population. It’s a troubling trend signaling big changes ahead for American agriculture as aging farmers retire. Reporter Mike Osborne says a new report from the U.S. Census Bureau is suggesting what some of those changes might look like... and why they might not be so troubling.
Video

Video Donetsk Governor: Ukraine Military Assault 'Delicate But Necessary'

Around a dozen state buildings in eastern Ukraine remain in the hands of pro-Russian protesters who are demanding a referendum on self-rule. The governor of the whole Donetsk region is among those forced out by the protesters. He spoke to VOA's Henry Ridgwell from his temporary new office in Donetsk city.
Video

Video Drones May Soon Send Data From High Seas

Drones are usually associated with unmanned flying vehicles, but autonomous watercraft are also becoming useful tools for jobs ranging from scientific exploration to law enforcement to searching for a missing airliner in the Indian Ocean. VOA’s George Putic reports on sea-faring drones.
Video

Video New Earth-Size Planet Found

Not too big, not too small. Not too hot, not too cold. A newly discovered planet looks just right for life as we know it, according to an international group of astronomers. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Copts in Diaspora Worry About Future in Egypt

Around 10 percent of Egypt’s population belong to the Coptic faith, making them the largest Christian minority in the Middle East. But they have become targets of violence since the revolution three years ago. With elections scheduled for May and the struggle between the Egyptian military and Islamists continuing, many Copts abroad are deeply worried about the future of their ancient church. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky visited a Coptic church outside Washington DC.
Video

Video Critics Say Venezuelan Protests Test Limits of Military's Support

During the two months of deadly anti-government protests that have rocked the oil-rich nation of Venezuela, President Nicolas Maduro has accused the opposition of trying to initiate a coup. Though a small number of military officers have been arrested for allegedly plotting against the government, VOA’s Brian Padden reports the leadership of the armed forces continues to support the president, at least for now.
Video

Video More Millenials Unplug to Embrace Board Games

A big new trend in the U.S. toy industry has more consumers switching off their high-tech gadgets to play with classic toys, like board games. This is especially true among the so-called millenial generation - those born in the 1980's and 90's. Elizabeth Lee has more from an unusual café in Los Angeles, where the new trend is popular and business is booming.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
AppleAndroid