BEIRUT — Forty Filipino peacekeepers escaped their besieged outpost in the Golan Heights, officials said Sunday. AI-Qaida-linked insurgents still hold 44 Fijians as captives.
The U.N. Security Council has condemned the assaults on the international troops and demanded the unconditional release of those still held captive.
The crisis began after Syrian rebels overran the Quneitra crossing
— between Syrian-and Israeli-controlled parts of the Golan Heights
— on Wednesday. A day later, insurgents from the Nusra Front seized the Fijian peacekeepers and surrounded their Filipino colleagues.
The Filipinos, occupying two U.N. encampments, fought the rebels Saturday. About half of the peacekeepers were then escorted out of a U.N. encampment in armored vehicles.
The remaining 40 peacekeepers were besieged at the second encampment. The Filipinos returned fire in self-defense. As a ceasefire took hold, the 40 Filipinos fled, traveling for nearly two hours before meeting up with other U.N. forces, who escorted them to safety Sunday.-