Skip to main content

U.N. peacekeepers under fire on Golan Heights; 44 held by militants

By Ralph Ellis and Chelsea J. Carter, CNN
updated 11:41 PM EDT, Sat August 30, 2014
A blindfolded man suspected of passing military information to the Syrian government waits to be interrogated by Free Syrian Army fighters Monday, October 6, in Aleppo, Syria. The United Nations estimates more than 190,000 people have been killed in Syria since an uprising in March 2011 spiraled into civil war. A blindfolded man suspected of passing military information to the Syrian government waits to be interrogated by Free Syrian Army fighters Monday, October 6, in Aleppo, Syria. The United Nations estimates more than 190,000 people have been killed in Syria since an uprising in March 2011 spiraled into civil war.
HIDE CAPTION
Syrian civil war in 2014
Syrian civil war in 2014
Syrian civil war in 2014
Syrian civil war in 2014
Syrian civil war in 2014
Syrian civil war in 2014
Syrian civil war in 2014
Syrian civil war in 2014
Syrian civil war in 2014
Syrian civil war in 2014
Syrian civil war in 2014
Syrian civil war in 2014
Syrian civil war in 2014
Syrian civil war in 2014
Syrian civil war in 2014
Syrian civil war in 2014
Syrian civil war in 2014
Syrian civil war in 2014
Syrian civil war in 2014
Syrian civil war in 2014
Syrian civil war in 2014
Syrian civil war in 2014
Syrian civil war in 2014
Syrian civil war in 2014
Syrian civil war in 2014
Syrian civil war in 2014
Syrian civil war in 2014
Syrian civil war in 2014
Syrian civil war in 2014
Syrian civil war in 2014
Syrian civil war in 2014
Syrian civil war in 2014
Syrian civil war in 2014
Syrian civil war in 2014
Syrian civil war in 2014
Syrian civil war in 2014
Syrian civil war in 2014
Syrian civil war in 2014
Syrian civil war in 2014
Syrian civil war in 2014
Syrian civil war in 2014
Syrian civil war in 2014
Syrian civil war in 2014
Syrian civil war in 2014
Syrian civil war in 2014
Syrian civil war in 2014
Syrian civil war in 2014
Syrian civil war in 2014
Syrian civil war in 2014
Syrian civil war in 2014
Syrian civil war in 2014
Syrian civil war in 2014
Syrian civil war in 2014
Syrian civil war in 2014
Syrian civil war in 2014
Syrian civil war in 2014
Syrian civil war in 2014
Syrian civil war in 2014
Syrian civil war in 2014
Syrian civil war in 2014
Syrian civil war in 2014
Syrian civil war in 2014
Syrian civil war in 2014
Syrian civil war in 2014
Syrian civil war in 2014
Syrian civil war in 2014
Syrian civil war in 2014
Syrian civil war in 2014
Syrian civil war in 2014
Syrian civil war in 2014
Syrian civil war in 2014
Syrian civil war in 2014
Syrian civil war in 2014
Syrian civil war in 2014
<<
<
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17
18
19
20
21
22
23
24
25
26
27
28
29
30
31
32
33
34
35
36
37
38
39
40
41
42
43
44
45
46
47
48
49
50
51
52
53
54
55
56
57
58
59
60
61
62
63
64
65
66
67
68
69
70
71
72
73
74
>
>>
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • The al-Nusra Front has released pictures purporting to show the peacekeepers
  • United Nations has not released the identities of the detained peacekeepers
  • Peacekeepers remain under fire by rebels, the U.N. says
  • U.N. secretary-general demands release of peacekeepers

(CNN) -- United Nations peacekeepers were attacked on the Golan Heights on Saturday, even as U.N. officials said they were working to gain the release of dozens of others detained by Islamist fighters.

The United Nations did not identify who carried out the attacks, but an Israeli military official told CNN that a separate incident -- the capture of 44 peacekeepers in the same area -- was carried out by militants from Syria.

Those holding the peacekeepers are members of the al Qaeda-linked al-Nusra Front, one of the rebel groups fighting President Bashar al-Assad's government, an Israeli military official told CNN on condition of anonymity.

The peacekeepers were detained by al-Nusra following a battle with Syrian forces for control of a checkpoint on the Syrian border of the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights.

The United Nations Disengagement Observer Force has been in place in the Golan Heights since 1974 to maintain a ceasefire between Israel and Syria.

While the United Nations reported 44 had been detained, Al-Nusra released pictures online Saturday that purport to show 45 peacekeepers and their U.N. identification cards. The United Nations has not released the identities of the peacekeepers, and CNN cannot independently confirm the claim by the group.

The details about the detained peacekeepers came the same day that attackers fired on two U.N. positions, the world body said.

The U.N. said no peacekeepers were injured in Saturday's attacks.

One U.N. position was fired upon, resulting in the 32 Filipino personnel there being moved to safety, the U.N. said.

A second position of peackeepers in the Golan Heights was hit with mortar and heavy machine gun fire, the U.N. said. The peacekeepers returned fire and repelled the attackers, but the group remains under fire, the world body said. It later said that 40 Filipino peacekeepers were safe.

The ongoing fire is preventing these peacekeepers from safely pulling back, the United Nations said.

A third outpost of peacekeepers was withdrawn as a precaution after some firing near them.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon condemned the attacks and demanded the "unconditional and immediate release" of the detained peacekeepers.

The peacekeepers from Fiji were captured this week near Quneitra border crossing with the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights.

Al-Nusra Front fighters and other Syrian rebels seized control of the Syrian side of the Quneitra crossing Wednesday -- a capture that represents a new dynamic in a war long feared not only for its deadly effects inside Syria but for threatening to widen into a destabilizing regional conflict.

The peacekeepers "are safe and in good health," the United Nations said Friday, citing "credible sources" since its officials had not yet talked directly with those being held.

Israel seized control of the Golan Heights during the 1967 Six-Day War and fought off an attempt by Syria in 1973 to retake the rocky plateau.

In 1981, Israel annexed the Golan Heights. It is considered to be occupied territory by the international community.

CNN's Pierre Meilhan and Mariano Castillo contributed to this report.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
Syrian crisis
updated 10:48 AM EDT, Tue September 9, 2014
As a 10-year-old, this boy first hit the headlines in 1982 when he saved his cat from a fire. This year, he was reported to be a suicide bomber.
updated 2:03 PM EDT, Fri September 5, 2014
Aqsa Mahmood,19, would listen to Coldplay and read Harry Potter books. Then this Glasgow girl became an ISIS bride.
updated 4:23 AM EDT, Fri August 29, 2014
The little boy looks barely old enough to walk, let alone understand the dark world he's now inhabiting.
updated 12:22 AM EDT, Fri August 29, 2014
ISIS has released video of the aftermath of a mass execution. Another video shows alleged captured Peshmerga soldiers.
updated 5:33 AM EDT, Sat August 30, 2014
The number of people who have fled Syria and registered as refugees amid the country's civil war will surpass 3 million Friday.
updated 2:49 PM EDT, Fri August 29, 2014
Douglas McAuthur McCain, 33, grew up in the Minneapolis area, but died more than 6,000 miles away in Syria, fighting for ISIS.
updated 4:54 PM EDT, Mon September 1, 2014
If the United States is serious about thoroughly defeating ISIS, it must, somehow, go through Syria.
updated 8:43 AM EDT, Thu June 26, 2014
Jihadists have kidnapped over 140 Kurdish boys to "brainwash" them. But a few boys made a daring escape.
updated 8:48 AM EDT, Thu June 26, 2014
Reports that Syrian warplanes carried out a cross-border attack on Iraqi towns is further evidence of the blurring of the two countries' borders.
updated 5:33 PM EDT, Tue June 24, 2014
CNN's Atika Shubert speaks to a father whose teenage son joined the Jihad movement in Syria.
updated 7:41 AM EDT, Mon June 23, 2014
At the start of Syria's civil unrest, Omar would rally against the government alongside his schoolmates, later taking to the streets in his hometown of Salqin.
updated 5:17 PM EDT, Mon June 23, 2014
Atika Shubert looks at the rise of European jihadists traveling to Syria and whether they soon could join ISIS in Iraq.
updated 10:53 AM EDT, Mon June 23, 2014
The final stockpile of Syria's chemical weapons has been shipped out of the country, according to the OPCW, the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons.
updated 4:25 PM EDT, Wed June 25, 2014
The US isn't doing airstrikes in Iraq. Is there a vacuum for Syria and Iran to step in? CNN's Fareed Zakaria weighs in.
updated 4:04 AM EDT, Tue June 10, 2014
CNN's Nick Paton Walsh reports on Syrian rebels using underground explosions against the better-equipped regime.
updated 7:51 AM EDT, Mon June 9, 2014
CNN's Nick Paton Walsh returns to the besieged rebel areas of Aleppo, a pale skeleton of a city that has had the life bombed out of it.
updated 7:51 AM EDT, Mon June 2, 2014
Syria may be embroiled in a brutal three-year civil war, but that's not stopping the government from holding presidential elections.
updated 7:23 AM EDT, Tue June 3, 2014
CNN's Nick Paton Walsh meets an ISIS defector in hiding and gets a rare look into the group's recruitment process.
updated 12:10 PM EDT, Thu June 5, 2014
Over a thousand Syrian refugees have turned an abandoned shopping mall in Lebanon into makeshift living quarters.
updated 12:16 PM EDT, Tue October 14, 2014
More than 100,000 people reportedly have been killed in Syria since a popular uprising in 2011 spiraled into a civil war.
ADVERTISEMENT