Al-Nusra Front reveals reason for detaining UN peacekeepers
The Syrian branch of Al Qaeda has acknowledged that it captured 45 United Nations peacekeepers in southern Syria, saying they were being held in retaliation for what the group called the United Nations’ failure to help the people of Syria during the country’s civil war.The group, the Nusra Front, also accused the peacekeeping force, which has monitored the demarcation line between Syria and the Israeli‑occupied Golan Heights since 1974, of protecting Israeli‑controlled territory while doing nothing to stop the killing on the Syrian side.
The statement, released over the weekend, contained a group photo of the captured peacekeepers from Fiji, as well as a photograph of their identification cards.
The statement said they were being treated well and were given food and medical care, but it issued no demands for their release.
Although the Nusra Front said it was holding 45 peacekeepers, the United Nations had said 44 are being held, a discrepancy that could not immediately be explained. The statement was the first confirmation from the Nusra Front, one of the many groups fighting the forces of President Bashar al‑Assad in Syria’s civil war, that it was holding the peacekeepers.
They were captured on Friday, one day after rebels seized a crossing point on the demarcation line from Syrian forces.
Other rebels in the area had condemned the Nusra Front for capturing the peacekeepers and called for their release.
In its statement, the Nusra Front accused the United Nations of failing to help Syrians during the civil war, which has killed more than 190,000 people over more than three years.
The peacekeeping force in question, the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force, is responsible only for monitoring the frontier between Israeli ‑ and Syrian‑controlled zones and has no mandate to intervene in Syria’s civil war.
Source: New York Times
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