Aug 31, 2014 – The Al Nusra Front have confirmed they have taken hostage UN peacekeepers from Fiji abducted from the UN’s Golan Heights observer mission.
The group said it is holding the peacekeepers hostage “in reply to all crimes committed by the UN against al-Sham since 1974 in protecting the zionist Israeli border, we took 43 UNDOF hostages.”
The UN have said that 44 Fijian troops have been detained. It has not yet said who is holding them hostage.
“Al Nusra is on terrorist list and on sanction list. All we do is offer support for our brothers in Syris. In exchange, we face the UN article 7,” the group said. Article 7 of the UN charter authorizes the use of force to maintain international peace and security.
“We confirm all 43 UNDOF are in a secure place, in good health and receive medical attention,” Al Nusra said.
The UN observer force in Golan was established in 1974 in response to a ceasefire agreement agreement between Israel and Syria following the end of the 1973 war. It patrols a demiltarized zone agreed on both sides.
UN troops were mandated to observe the ceasefire, in the absence of a peace agreement between the countries, and occupy a zone which both sides declared should be demilitarized, according to their disengagement agreement.
Meanwhile, the UN says the 40 Filipino troops pinned down in their position have been vacated following a ceasefire agreed with armed groups.
Some 70 Filipino troops had come under fire in their positions following the abduction of the Fijian troops. Irish troops rescued some 30 of those peacekeepers on Friday. The remaining Filipino were troops engaged in a standoff with armed groups, including Al Nusra, until a ceasefire was arranged.
Fijian Commander Brigadier General Mosese Tikoitogan told the Fiji Times that he has been informed that his troops are safe and have been removed from the Golan by their captives but is unsure of their location. “I am sure sooner or later they will provide a demand to the UN but at this stage we can wait and see what happens in the next few days.”
– Denis Fitzgerald
On Twitter @denisfitz