UNSC demands release of abducted peacekeepers
A combo of images taken from the Israeli-annexed Golan Heights shows a file picture of a Syrian flag hoisted on a flagpole. [AFP]
US Ambassador to the UN Samantha Power, who holds the UNSC presidency this month, said all 15 member states strongly condemned the abduction of the Fijian peacekeepers on the Golan Heights.
The Fijian peacekeepers serving with the UN Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF), along with a 1,200-strong UN force, were monitoring a so-called buffer zone between Israel and Syria when they were abducted by the anti-Syria militants on August 28.
“They reiterated their call for the peacekeepers’ immediate and unconditional release. There can never be any justification for attacks on or the detention of UN peacekeepers,” Powers said. “They (Security Council members) also called upon countries with influence to strongly convey to those responsible, to immediately release the peacekeepers.”
Meanwhile, UN Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Herve Ladsous has said that the troops have shown steadfastness and courage. He also said that the UN was working for their release.
The abductions came after the peacekeepers refused to surrender to militants, including those linked to the al-Qaeda-affiliate al-Nusra Front. The militants have issued a series of demands in return for the release of the peacekeepers. They have demanded to be removed from a UN terrorist list.
Militant groups in Syria, including al-Qaeda-linked al-Nusra Front, have been directly supported by the US and trained in Jordan.
On August 30, the Philippines’ Defense Minister Voltaire Gazmin said militants had attacked dozens of Filipino peacekeepers in the Golan Heights.
The Golan Heights has been under the Israeli occupation since the 1960s. The Tel Aviv regime occupied the Golan Heights during the Six-Day War of 1967 and annexed the region in 1981, although the move was never recognized by the international community and was a violation of international law.