Syrian rebels make demands for Golan Heights U.N. peacekeepers’ release

Marcy Oster

JERUSALEM (JTA) — Syrian rebels have issued a list of demands for the release of United Nations peacekeepers stationed on the Golan Heights between Syria and Israel.

The 45 Fijian troops from the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force  have been held captive for five days in an unknown location.

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The rebels from the Nusra Front, which has ties to Al-Qaida, have demanded to be taken off the U.N. terrorist list, for humanitarian aid delivered to parts of the Syrian capital Damascus, and for compensation for three of its fighters it says were killed by U.N. officers during a shootout, the Associated Press reported Tuesday.

The U.N. reportedly has sent hostage negotiators to Syria.

Two units of Filipino peacekeepers escaped from the rebels after their positions in the buffer zone between Israel and Syria were surrounded.

Ireland announced Monday that it may not replace its 130 troops in the Golan Heights, due to the security issues.

New Irish troops are scheduled to replace the current troops at the mission next month, but they will not be sent in without “a full review and we have to get assurances about how the mission will change to adapt to the new realities,” Irish Defense Minister Simon Coveney said Monday in an interview on national television, Reuters reported.

Until then, Ireland is “not going to send any more troops to that mission,” Coveney said.