The nabbed UN peacekeepers

UN peacekeepers nabbed in Syria

Insurgents insist to be protecting peacekeepers from regime forces; Israel concerned that Golan will become springboard for attacks on Israelis by anti-Assad militants; Ya'alon: 'we have red lines'

Four Filipino peacekeeping soldiers were nabbed by Syrian rebels in the Daraa Governorate, Lebanese Almayadeen TV channel, affiliated with Hezbollah, reported Tuesday.


The insurgents claimed in response they were protecting the UN peacekeepers from regime forces.


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It was not clear who detained the peacekeepers of the 1,000-member UN Disengagement Observer Force, UN spokeswoman said. The peacekeepers were patrolling close to where 21 UN observers were detained by Syrian rebel fighters for three days in March, she added.


ארבעת הפקחים החטופים בתמונה שפרסמו המורדים

Four abducted peacekeepers (Photo released by Syrian rebels)  


Spokeswoman Josephine Guerrero said they were taken at Position 86, near the southern end of the narrow "area of separation" between Syrian and Israeli forces.


The Yarmouk Martyrs rebels said they "carried out an operation to secure and protect elements of the United Nations operating in the Yarmouk Valley ... during clashes and heavy shelling in the region".


They said the heavy presence of Assad's forces posed a danger to the peacekeepers, as well as "criminal elements" in the area.


Despite previous incidents in which Filipino and Austrian peacekeepers were nabbed and then released, Israel is anxious for the peacekeeping force to remain in place, worried that the Golan will become a springboard for attacks on Israelis by Islamist militants fighting Syrian President Bashar Assad.


Earlier Tuesday, the Lebanese National News Agency reported that the IDF had fired four flares around the border with Israel early Tuesday morning. According to the report, both sides are on high alert, and there is much drone traffic in the airspace above the entire border.


IDF implements drone aircraft for surveillance along the Lebanese border, in an ongoing stand-off with Shiite militant group Hezbollah.


In addition to advanced drone surveillance, the IDF recently decided to man the border with a regular infantry division, fearing penetration by militants affiliated with the al-Qaeda or the global jihad.


During a tour in the Southern Command earlier in the day, Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon referred to the situation in Syria, saying: "We are not intervening in the Syrian civil war but we put red lines, which are transfers of weapons to terrorist organizations or violation of our sovereignty."


Ya'alon added, "In any of these cases we will act and defend Israel's security. Forces in the field are instructed that once there is fire towards Israel and the source is identified – it will be destroyed."  


Reuters contributed to this report



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פרסום ראשון: 05.07.13, 18:17
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