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Syrian rebels open fire on convoy carrying Russian journalists

RT | June 9, 2013

A Russian TV crew came under fire in Syria when a mainly civilian convoy taking the journalists to the Golan Heights was shelled by Syrian rebels.

The convoy shelled on Saturday was led by a Syrian army military vehicle, and consisted of several cars occupied by civilians, including one with Russian TV journalists.

The shelling started when the cars were about 5 kilometers away from their destination – ‘Checkpoint Charlie’ – the only crossing between Syria and the Golan Heights, disputed territory claimed by both Syria and Israel.

“The Syrian troops started to fight the rebels back, but the insurgents targeted the civilian cars,” said Evgeny Poddubny, the head of the Russian TV crew and special correspondent for Rossiya TV channel.

Throughout the fighting, a Russian cameraman kept filming; gunshots can be heard on the video for 15 minutes. The footage also features a Syrian army officer reporting to command that armed militants attacked first, that shelling was coming from both sides of the road.

“The convoy could not make it to the checkpoint, the rebels set an ambush on the road, fighting broke out, the military responded with heavy fire to cover the retreat of our TV crew, and then they retreated themselves. The militants were further confronted by the field artillery, which is deployed in the area,” Poddubny said.

No one was injured in the attack. A similar incident occurred recently in the Golan Heights buffer zone when Checkpoint Charlie was attacked and seized by rebels on Thursday, and quickly recaptured by government troops.

“The militants use the status of the territory; they hide in the buffer zone and are carrying out attacks like the one you’ve just witnessed. Then they retreat. And we cannot carry out special operations here – as that would be a breach of international agreements. Besides, the rebels are getting help from Israel – it supplies them with ammunition and even provides medical aid to terrorists in mobile hospitals,” Syrian army General Nasr Haidar, whose regiment is deployed in the area, told Rossiya.

Provocations by the insurgents are seen as major reason why international peacekeepers have been withdrawing from the area. Austrian troops, which accounted for 40 percent of the UN peacekeepers in the Golan Heights, have announced their withdrawal.

This week, Russia proposed to replace Austrian UN peacekeepers on the Israel-Syria border. However, the mandate of the UN mission would not allow Russia’s participation.

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June 9, 2013 Posted by | War Crimes | , , , | Leave a comment

Militants capture UN peacekeepers in Golan Heights

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Press TV – May 7, 2013

Militants fighting against the Syrian government have abducted a group of UN peacekeepers monitoring the ceasefire line between Syria and the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights.

According to Reuter’s news agency, a militant group operating in Syria issued a statement on Tuesday saying it was holding the four peacekeepers.

The statement said the peacekeepers were being held for their own safety because of clashes in the separation zone between Syria and the Israeli-occupied heights.

A picture accompanying the statement shows four peacekeepers wearing light-blue UN flak jackets marked “Philippines.”

It is the second time that foreign-backed militants fighting against the government of President Bashar al-Assad seize UN troops in the Syrian side of the Golan Heights.

In March, anti-Syria militants detained 21 Filipino peacekeepers in the same region. They were released after three days.

Syria has been experiencing unrest since March 2011. Many people, including large numbers of security personnel, have been killed in the violence.

Damascus says the chaos is being orchestrated from outside the country, and there are reports that a very large number of the insurgents are foreign nationals.

Several international human rights organizations have accused foreign-sponsored militants of committing war crimes.

May 7, 2013 Posted by | War Crimes | , , | Leave a comment

Syria’s Jaafari Says Israel Facilitated UN Peacekeepers Abduction

Al-Manar | March 10, 2013

Syrian ambassador at the United Nations, Bashar al-Jaafari, accused the Zionist entity of cooperating with the armed group that abducted 21 UN peacekeepers in the Golan Heights earlier this week.

“Israel facilitated entry of Salafist elements into the buffer zone between Israel and Syria in Golan, which is considered a violation of the 1974 treaty signed between the two sides, Jaafari told reporters on Friday.

“Israel wanted to repeat what it had done in south Lebanon in 1970s when they created an isolating area and appointed a Lebanese officer to fight for them”.
“For achieving such aim, peacekeepers should be evacuated from Golan,” he added.

“Two weeks ago, seven terrorist from the same armed group that took the Filipino contingent staffers hostage where also rescued by the Israelis through the separation line, treated in Israeli hospitals and returned at an undisclosed place on the line of separation, according to the Israeli official statement.” he said.

“So that proves to itself that the Israelis are cooperating with these armed groups and terrorist groups.”

Jaafari also dismissed the notion that Assad government operations were endangering the hostages or impeding their release.

“We know what we are doing and we know where the peacekeepers are. Our task is to rescue these peacekeepers and safeguard their lives.”

21 UN peacekeepers of the Filippino nationalities were seized by rebels Wednesday near the armistice. But they crossed to freedom in Jordan on Saturday.

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March 10, 2013 Posted by | Deception, Timeless or most popular, Wars for Israel | , , , , , | 1 Comment

Free to go…not! Syrian rebels backpedal over UN hostages

RT | March 8, 2013

The Syrian rebels who captured a group of Filipino UN peacekeepers failed to release them despite earlier promises to hand over the hostages to the Red Cross, the Philippines government said.

The Syrian militant group that had captured 21 blue helmet troops in Golan Heights is sticking to its initial demands, said the spokesman for the Philippines Department of Foreign Affairs, Raul Hernandez. After seizing the peacekeepers on Wednesday, the Syrian rebels demanded that Syrian government forces withdraw from the village of Jamlah in exchange for the release of the captives.

The abrupt change of plans appears a sign of discord among the Syrian rebel group, which is detaining the Filipinos. Earlier on Friday they seemed to have played down their demands, calling the hostages “guests” and stressing that they would not harm them.

It comes after the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights released a video showing some of the 21 peacekeepers, with one man – who identified himself as a captain in the UN Philippines battalion – saying that he and his men are in “a safe place.”

The peacekeepers were taken by Syrian rebels in Golan Heights, a territory that Israel captured from Syria in 1967. The land grab was not recognized as legitimate by either Syria or the international community.

The UN has maintained a peacekeeping force in the area to maintain the ceasefire between Israel and Syria since 1974. As of late January, there were more than 1,000 troops and about 100 civilian personnel deployed there.

A flurry of condemnation followed the ill-fated capture, as the countries and organizations usually seen as supporters of the Syrian armed opposition demanded their freedom. The US called it “absolutely unacceptable,” while the EU called such moves “serious breaches of international law.”

The UN and the Philippines government had condemned the capture of the peacekeepers and urged the insurgents to immediately release them. Russia’s UN envoy Vitaly Churkin said the seizure of the UN observers showed “gross disrespect for the United Nations.”

It’s not clear whether the militant group had changed their intentions about the hostages due to the international pressure or because they thought that holding UN personnel does not give them enough leverage on the Syrian government to force their troops out of Jamlah.

The incident will not make the UN withdraw its peacekeeping force from the Golan Heights, UN spokesman Martin Nesirky said.

March 8, 2013 Posted by | War Crimes | , , | Leave a comment