The Syrian rebel group that kidnapped four UN peacekeepers near the Israeli border released a video Wednesday that appeared to show its captives alive and well, amid statements from the UN that negotiation for their release was underway.
The Yarmouk Martyrs Brigade, a rebel group operating near the juncture of the Jordanian, Syrian, and Israeli borders, kidnapped four Filipino peacekeepers with UNDOF on Wednesday during intense clashes between the Syrian army and opposition forces in the area. The group claimed that the men were being held for their own protection.
The UN said Wednesday that peacekeepers were maintaining their presence monitoring the separation of Israeli and Syrian forces along the ceasefire line, but added that some of the UNDOF forces were moved because of the increasingly tenuous security situation.
“UNDOF continues to do its utmost to ensure the implementation of its mandate while mitigating risk to its personnel,” UN peacekeeping spokeswoman Josephine Guerrero said. “In light of the evolving security situation, peacekeepers from Position 86 have been relocated.”
Position 86 is located opposite the Syrian village of Jamlah, where the Yarmouk Martyrs Brigade kidnapped and detained 21 peacekeepers in March and where it was holding the four peacekeepers kidnapped on Tuesday.
The UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations tweeted that efforts to secure the men’s release were underway.
US Ambassador to the UN Susan Rice called the detention of the UN peacekeepers “unacceptable,’ saying they must be released immediately.