|Gunmen in Syria seized on Wednesday seized 21 UN peacekeepers in the Golan Heights ceasefire zone between Syria and the Zionist entity.
UN officials said on Thursday negotiation with the militants were under way in order to free the peacekeepers, who are from the Philippines, diplomats said.
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon called for their “immediate” release and demanded the Syrian government and the armed opposition respect their “freedom of movement and security”.
The UN said it was trying to negotiate the release of the soldiers, while an opposition spokesman said the troops would be held until Assad’s forces pull back from a Golan village.
Officials in Manila urged the troops, who are part of a 300-strong Filipino peacekeeping unit, to be released immediately.
UNSC CONDEMNS SEIZURE OF PEACEKEEPERS IN GOLAN HEIGHTS
The United Nations Security Council has strongly condemned the seizure of the UN peacekeepers in the occupied Golan Heights by foreign-backed Syrian militants.
The 15-nation council condemned the Syrian militants in a statement issued on Wednesday, Russian Ambassador to the UN and Security Council President Vitaly Churkin told a press conference in New York.
“The members of the Security Council strongly condemned the detention of a group of more than 20 peacekeepers of the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force [UNDOF] within the area of limitation east of the B-Line earlier today by armed elements of the Syrian opposition,” Churkin said.
“The members of the Security Council demanded the unconditional and immediate release of all the detained U.N. peacekeepers and called upon all parties to cooperate with UNDOF in good faith to enable it to operate freely and ensure full security of its personnel,” he added.
“My understanding is that they took over the trucks in which the UNDOF personnel was [sic] moving around,” Churkin said.
Earlier in the day, the foreign-back militants detained the UN peacekeepers in the occupied Golan Heights.
According to Eduardo del Buey, deputy spokesman for UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, the peacekeepers were stopped and detained by approximately 30 armed militants.
“The UN observers were on a regular supply mission and were stopped near observation post 58… The mission is dispatching a team to assess the situation and attempt a resolution,” he said.
The Syria crisis began in March 2011, and many people, including large numbers of army and security personnel, have been killed.
The Syrian government says that the chaos is being orchestrated from outside the country, and there are reports that a very large number of the militants are foreign nationals.
In addition, several international human rights organizations have accused the foreign-sponsored militants of committing war crimes.
In an interview broadcast on German television, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad said that the government did not start the conflict and the militant groups were the ones killing Syrian citizens and destroying the country’s infrastructure.