Golan standoff over; Filipino troops safe

All troops are safe

The other group of about 35 Filipino peacekeepers in another UN post 4 kilometers away – Position 69 – were also able to extricate on Saturday. Irish peacekeepers helped secure the escape route. 

The standoff happened at UN posts located in central Golan. As contingency measure, a 3rd group of 58 Filipino peacekeepers in a post in northern Golan also evacuated their posts and consolidated at the UNDOF headquarters.

UN chief Ban Ki-moon strongly condemned the attack on UN peacekeepers, by non-state actors he said included the Al-Nusra Front, Ban's spokesperson said.

Ban also called for the immediate release of the Fijian peacekeepers who had been detained, a call echoed later Saturday by a Security Council resolution.

"We are still working towards the safe release of the detained 44 Fijian peacekeepers," it added.

The Filipino peacekeepers defied the rebels because they did not want to meet the same fate of the Fijian peacekeepers who were taken hostage after they surrendered their firearms. 

The tour of duty of the Filipino peacekeepers ends in October. Catapang said the troops will finish it.

The incident happens as the Philippine government is finalizing the pullout of troops in Golan Heights, citing the escalating internal conflict. 

Last year, Syrian rebels also abducted 2 separate groups of Filipino peacekeepers. They were eventually released unharmed. – Rappler.com