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Syria rebels besiege UN position near Golan Heights
Armed militant groups on Saturday besieged a position of the UN peacekeepers in Syria's southern province of Qunaitera, bordering the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights, the pan-Arab al-Mayadeen TV reported.
Armed fighters of the al-Qaida-linked Nusra Front besieged a headquarter of the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force ( UNDOF) at the town of Ruwayhinah in the countryside of Qunaitera, the report said.
It added that Filipinos peacekeepers in the besieged position clashed with the Nusra fighters.
Other reports said that one of the two Filipino peacekeepers' groups managed to flee to the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights while the other group is still struck in the UN position in Qunaitera under the Nusra attack.
The radical militant groups on Thursday kidnapped 44 UN peacekeepers after seizing control over several areas in Qunaitera.
Since then, the Syrian troops have unleashed a counter- offensive to recapture the lost positions in Qunaitera.
UN officials declared that the kidnapped UN personnel were " safe and in good health" even though the "UNDOF has not yet had direct contact with these (kidnapped) peacekeepers."
Twenty-five Philippine peacekeepers serving with the UNDOF were detained by armed elements in March and May of 2013. They were released safely shortly afterward.
Peacekeepers serving with the UNDOF monitor the 1974 disengagement accord between Syria and Israel after the 1973 war. As of July 31, there are 1,223 peacekeepers from six countries, including Fiji, India, Ireland, Nepal, the Netherlands and the Philippines, serving in the force.
In June, the UN Security Council extended UNDOF's mandate for another six months until Dec. 31, 2014.
[Source: Xinhua, Damascus, 30Aug14]
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