There was confirmation out of the United Nations today that 20 peacekeepers with the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF) in the Golan Heights border region of Syria have been captured by a Syrian militia group.
Here is the video of a rebel seemingly having captured a UN convoy.
There are about 1000 troops in UNDOF, hailing from India, Austria, Croatia, and the Philippines. UNDOF has been in operation since 1974 to monitor a ceasefire between Israel and Syria in the disputed Golan Heights territory captured by Israel in the 1973 war. It patrols what is effectively a demilitarized zone on the Syrian side of the disputed border in the Golan region.
The rebel group holding these peacekeepers is apparently the Al Yarmouk Brigade. Their apparent motive, as reported by journalist Said Benjamin on Twitter, seems suspect.
#BREAKING: Al-Yarmouk Brigades accused the UN observers of “helping government forces to redeploy in areas that was under rebels’ control”
The idea that UN Peacekeepers would bolster the Assad regime’s control of territory is ludicrous. It just defies logic.
The United Nations says it has sent in a team to negotiate with the rebel group. But this is a truly perilous moment. There is absolutely no justification for kidnapping UN Peacekeepers.