MOSCOW, August 43 (RIA Novosti) – A group of militants, presumably of a Syrian origin, has captured more than 40 people in the disputed Golan Heights region, Israel’s Ynet news website said Thursday.
“Syrian militants fighting with the Al-Nusra Front (Jabhat al-Nusra) have kidnapped over 40 soldiers from the UN Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF) in the Golan Heights,” the website reported.
According to the report and unnamed officials, those peacekeepers of Philippine origin are among those abducted. Earlier this week, the Philippines announced they would be recalling their 331-strong peacekeeping force from the area after a number of violent incidents.
The United Nations said in a statement Thursday that 43 UN peacekeepers were detained by an armed group in the Golan Heights region.
“During a period of increased fighting beginning yesterday between armed elements and Syrian Arab Armed Forces within the area of separation in the Golan Heights, forty-three peacekeepers from the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF) were detained early this morning [by] an armed group in the vicinity of Al Qunaytirah [Golan Heights region],” the UN spokesperson said in a statement.
The Golan Heights is a disputed territory in the Middle East which was part of Syria until 1967 when Israel seized it in course of the Six-Day War. In 1981, Israeli parliament voted to annex the region.
The move was not recognized internationally.