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Number of detained UN peacekeepers in Golan confirmed at 45

A UN spokesman said Tuesday that the number of peacekeepers detained in the Golan Heights has risen to 45, and the world organization is continuing to seek their immediate and unconditional release.

"Over the weekend, there was news from the Golan Heights, on the safe passage of peacekeepers from the Philippines who had been surrounded by armed elements in Positions 68 and 69 in United Nations Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF)," UN spokesperson Stephane Dujarric told reporters at the daily briefing.

Meanwhile, Dujarric noted, the 45 Fijian peacekeepers forced from Position 27 in Golan on Aug. 28 continue to be detained by armed elements.

"UNDOF has confirmed that the number of Fijian peacekeepers currently held is 45, and not 44 as previously reported," said the spokesman, adding that the discrepancy is due to the movement of two personnel on the ground immediately prior to the detention of the troops.

"At this time, no additional information on their status or location has been established," Dujarric said.

The UN Spokesperson Office said last Thursday that 43 peacekeepers from UNDOF were detained early that morning by an armed group in the vicinity of Al Qunaytirah within the area of separation in the Golan Heights. In addition, another 81 UNDOF peacekeepers were being restricted to their positions in the vicinity of Ar Ruwayhinah and Burayqah.

The numbers of the detained and besieged peacekeepers were updated to respectively 44 and 72 last Friday.

UNDOF peacekeepers were previously detained by armed elements in March and May of 2013 and were released safely.

Peacekeepers serving with UNDOF monitor the 1974 disengagement accord between Syria and Israel after their 1973 war. In June, the Security Council extended the mission's mandate for another six months, until Dec. 31, 2014.

As of July 31, 2014, there are 1,223 peacekeepers from six countries serving in UNDOF -- Fiji, India, Ireland, Nepal, Netherlands and Philippines.

[Source: Xinhua, United Nations, 02Sep14]

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