Twenty-one United Nations peacekeepers were welcomed in Jordan when they were freed after being held by rebels for three days in Southern Syria.
They were seized on Wednesday by fighters from the Martyrs of Yarmouk group on the Golan Heights near Israel and held in the village of Jamla close to the Jordan border. The group of Filipinos are part of the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force-UNDOF.
One rebel leader explained that the fighters had led the peacekeepers to the Syria – Jordan border and handed them over as a request to the Red Cross and the United Nations to accept the hostages was turned down. It’s believed neither organisation recognises the Martyrs of Yarmouk group of fighters.
The rebels had demanded the withdrawal of Syrian government forces from the area before they freed the hostages. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon welcomed their release but called on “all parties to respect UNDOF’s freedom of movement and the safety and security of its personnel”, his spokesman said.