UN chief hails peacekeepers' release in Golan Heights

Last Updated: Sun, May 12, 2013 23:40 hrs

United Nations, May 13 (IANS) UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has welcomed the release of four Filipino peacekeepers captured by Syrian rebels in the Golan Heights last week.

They had been detained May 7 in the vicinity of Al Jamlah in the area of limitation.

Appreciating the assistance of Qatar and of others involved in securing their safe release, the secretary-general emphasised to all parties the impartiality of UN peacekeepers in a statement.

"The secretary-general welcomes the release of the four United Nations Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF) peacekeepers," reported Xinhua citing the UN chief in a statement. Sunday .

UNDOF, which is on the ground to monitor the Disengagement of Forces Agreement between Israel and Syria, has been in the Golan Heights since 1974.

It has about 1,000 troops and civilian staff, who are from countries such as India, Austria, the Philippines, Morocco and Moldova.

The four UN peacekeepers were seized by the rebels at an observation post on the ceasefire line between Syria and the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights last Tuesday.

It was second abduction of UN peacekeepers on the Golan Heights over the past two months. In March, 21 Filipino peacekeepers from UNDOF were abducted but later released.

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