Talks begin to free U.N. peacekeepers in Syria
Syrian rebels who on Wednesday seized 21 U.N. peacekeepers in the Golan Heights as hostages have told negotiators they will not harm their captives, but demand that Bashar al-Assad's forces pull back from the region before they will let them free.
The peacekeepers, who were stationed in the Israeli-annexed Golan Heights, were all from the Philippines. However, as the Jerusalem Post reported,"the Philippines does not expect any concrete action by Israel to help free [the peacekeepers], in order to avoid dragging Israel into Syria's conflict, the country's ambassador said Thursday." However, Israel has warned that it will not “stand idle” as Syria’s civil war breaches its contested borders -- Israel has already admitted to launching a number of airstrikes across the Syrian border and near Damascus over the past months.
Peacekeepers of the U.N. Disengagement Force (UNDOF) mission have been monitoring a ceasefire line between Syria and the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights, for nearly four decades.