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Middle East

UN troops 'moved to Syria-Jordan border'

Troops captured by Syrian fighters in the Golan Heights are being transferred to the border, abductors say.
Last Modified: 09 Mar 2013 13:10
Peacekeepers have been deployed in the Golan Heights since 1974 to monitor the Israeli-Syrian ceasefire line [Reuters]

UN peacekeepers seized by Syrian rebels in the Golan Heights have been moved to the Jordanian border, accompanied by fighters, according to their abductors.

Saturday's announcement came a day after a UN bid to retrieve the 21 Filipinos had been halted due to bombardment by the Syrian army in the area, the organisation said.

"The peacekeepers have been transferred from the [Golan] village of Jamla, where they were held, towards the Yarmouk valley on the frontier with Jordan ahead of their release," said Rami Abdel Rahman, a UK-based activist in contact with the rebels, on Saturday.

Abu Mahmoud, a rebel from the brigade that seized the troops, told Al Jazeera that the fighters were willing to hand them over to any Jordanian official or international organisation.

Abdel Rahman had earlier said that the men were expected to be freed during a two-hour truce on Saturday morning between the rebels and government forces.

The Yarmouk Martyrs brigade claimed the capture of the Filipinos on Wednesday and said they would hold them until troops loyal to President Bashar al-Assad withdrew from the Jamla area, east of the ceasefire line with Israel.

Israel seized the Golan Heights during the 1967 Six-Day War. UN peacekeepers have been monitoring the armistice line that followed the 1973 Arab-Israeli war, in which Syria tried to recapture the territory.

UN peacekeeping chief Herve Ladsous said Jamla village came under "intense shelling" on Friday.

That was denied by Syrian UN Ambassador Bashar Jaafari, who said Syrian forces were doing "everything in order to bring back safely the peacekeepers".

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