UN peacekeepers hostage in Golan, IS kills Syrian soldiers

43 Fijin troops taken by rebels including Jabhat Al-Nusra

28 August, 20:18

    Israeli tourists watch the surrounding of the Israeli-Syrian border crossing Quneitra  from the Golan Heights, Israeli tourists watch the surrounding of the Israeli-Syrian border crossing Quneitra from the Golan Heights,

    (ANSAmned) - BEIRUT/BAGHDAD - For the third consecutive time in just over a year, dozens of UN peacekeeping troops deployed in the Golan Heights were taken hostage on Thursday by anti-regime militias during fighting against Syrian government forces, as the Israeli army looked on. The rebel groups include the Al-Qaeda affiliate Jabhat Al-Nusra. The news came on the same day as that of a massacre of Syrian soldiers by the Islamic State (IS) - rival jihadists of the Al-Qaeda affiliate in control of vast areas between Syria and Iraq for the past several weeks - in the jihadist group's stronghold of Raqqa. The news was corroborated by photos.

    US airstrikes on IS positions in northern Iraq were also carried out during the day. Reports in local media unable to be independently verified say that Jabhat Al-Nusra has taken the UN peacekeepers hostage.

    The Al-Qaeda affiliate took part in gaining control of the Quneitra border crossing on Wednesday alongside other rebel groups. The 43 peacekeepers in their hands are from Fiji, according to a statement issued by the UK presidency of the UN Security Council. The statement reports that 81 other Filipino peacekeepers are surrounded in their positions by ''armed groups designated as terrorists by the Security Council and other non-state groups''. In March and May of last year, dozens of Filipino peacekeepers were taken hostage only to be released a few days later.

    The over 150 regime soldiers killed by IS in the northern province of Raqqa had been taken prisoner in recent weeks in two separate battles between regime troops and IS over a base north of Raqaa and the military airport Tabqa, east of the provincial capital and stronghold of the group, where hundreds of jihadists and Syrian soldiers had reportedly already lost their lives. Government forces meanwhile continued their airstrikes on the eastern region Deir Az-Zor as jihadists massed their fighters to attack the military airport in the region, the last still held by President Bashar Al-Assad's forces. (ANSAmed).

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