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    Syria Trying to Release Golan Hostages by Force - Diplomat

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    The Syrian government says it is trying to free UN peacekeepers taken hostage by insurgent fighters last week in the disputed Golan Heights region with no outside help, Syria's representative at the UN, Bashar Jafari, said on Friday.

    UNITED NATIONS, March 8 (RIA Novosti) - The Syrian government says it is trying to free UN peacekeepers taken hostage by insurgent fighters last week in the disputed Golan Heights region with no outside help, Syria's representative at the UN, Bashar Jafari, said on Friday.

    Twenty-one UN peacekeepers from the buffer zone between Israel and Syria, all of them Filipino nationals, were taken hostage on Wednesday and are being held in the village of Jamlah. Syrian forces are shelling the village.

    "The Syrian government has taken on the task of freeing these hostages to put an end to this irresponsible terrorist action," Jafari said.

    Earlier the UN General Secretary's representative Herve Ladsous told the Security Council that in the near future, Syrian forces are prepared to hold a ceasefire for a few hours to give the captives a chance to flee the village.

    The kidnappers, from a group that calls itself the Yarmouk Martyrs Brigade, are demanding that government forces withdraw from Jamlah.

    A spokesman for the group, Abu Essam Taseel, told Al Jazeera that no negotiations are currently underway to release the peacekeepers.

     

    Tags:
    UN Security Council, Bashar Jafari, Abu Essam Taseel, Herve Ladsous, Golan Heights
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