Updated 12:40 p.m. Moscow time
MOSCOW, September 11 (RIA Novosti) – A group of UN peacekeepers from Fiji, captured in the Golan Heights two weeks ago, have been released, Al-Jazeera reported Thursday.
The Fiji information ministry posted a statement about the peacekeepers' release earlier in the day, but the country's government later denied the information.
On August 28, a group of militants, presumably of a Syrian origin, captured 45 members of the UN Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF) mission from Fiji. They also blocked 72 peacekeepers from the Philippines in the disputed region of the Golan Heights, an area of clashes between militants and the Syrian army. Later all the Filipino peacekeepers managed to break out of encirclement.
The militants put forward three conditions for the release of the Fiji peacekeepers: al-Nusra Front, a branch of al-Qaeda operating in Syria and Lebanon, must be excluded from the UN list of terrorist groups, humanitarian supplies must be sent to various areas of the Syrian capital of Damascus, and the compensation must be paid for the three fighters who were killed in the confrontation with the UN officers.
The UNDOF peacekeeping mission on the Golan Heights has been monitoring a 1974 ceasefire between Israel and Syria following the war of 1973. Currently the mission consists of 1,223 troops from Fiji, India, Ireland, Nepal, Netherlands and the Philippines.