Syrian rebels free U.N. observers on Jordanian border
Cairo, Mar 9, 2013 (EFE via COMTEX) --
The 21 U.N. observers from the Philippines who were captured near the Golan Heights have been handed over by Syrian rebels to Jordanian authorities at the border between Syria and Jordan, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.
The organization said the observers were freed at a point on the border in the Yarmouk Valley after being taken as hostages Wednesday in the Syrian village of Jamla.
A spokesman for the rebel Martyrs of Yarmouk Brigade told the Observatory about the release of the observers, who, he said, had "stayed as guests" these last four days in Jamla.
The Philippine observers were kidnapped on Wednesday by rebels and are members of a U.N. mission monitoring a demilitarized zone separating Syria from the Israeli-held Golan Heights, occupied in the Six-Day War of 1967.
After the abduction, the U.N. Disengagement Observer Force suspended nighttime patrols in the area and has ordered the withdrawal of its troops in the two areas most exposed to crossfire.
Earlier this week the U.N. Security Council and its Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon condemned the detention of the observers and demanded their "immediate and unconditional" liberation.
In a video released two days ago, the observers appeared dressed in military uniforms inside a home. One identified himself as a captain and said he and the other soldiers were safe.
According to figures from the Office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, more than 70,000 people have died since the uprising against Assad's government erupted two years ago. EFE
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