UN peacekeepers’ release ‘mediated by Qatar’

Government statement says it helped secure soldiers kidnapped by al-Qaeda-linked Syrian rebels on Golan Heights.

The UN announced the same day the release of the soldiers, part of the UN Disengagement Observer Force [EPA]

The Qatari government has said it helped to secure the release of 45 Fijian peacekeepers kidnapped by al-Qaeda linked Syrian rebels on the Golan Heights last month.

Ban Ki-moon, UN secretary-general, welcomed Thursday’s development, with a spokesman saying he appreciated “the efforts of all concerned to secure their safe release”.

“The efforts of the State of Qatar led to the successful release of the Fijian soldiers … who had been held for two weeks,” the Gulf Arab country said in a statement on Thursday released to the Qatar News Agency.

The UN announced the same day the release of the 45 peacekeepers, part of the UN Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF) which monitors a 1974 ceasefire agreement between Israel and Syria on the Golan.

In its statement, the Qatari Foreign Ministry said its “mediation was conducted at the request of the government of Fiji”.

Earlier, it was reported that the Fijians had been captured about 8km away from 70 Philippine troops, who were rescued following an attack on their post on the Syrian side of the border.

The Fijian peacekeepers were handed over to their Filipino counterparts at the Quneitra crossing between the Syrian and the Israeli-controlled sides of the Golan, it said.

A UN spokesman said previously that the abductors had made no demands to secure their release, “and there were no concessions”.

Source: Al Jazeera, News Agencies