PH peacekeepers, Syrian rebels engage in firefight PDF Print E-mail
Sunday, 31 August 2014 14:36

Firefight broke out on Saturday between some 75 Filipino members of the UN peacekeeping forces and Syrian rebels after a two-day stand off at Golan Heights, Philippine Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin

In a text message to reporters, Gazmin confirmed the Filipino soldiers “Positionn68 came under attack from the Syrian rebels Saturday around 6 a.m.   Another batch of Filipino soldiers at “Position 69 have been extracted out of the danger zone, Gazmin said.

“But all of them (Filipino soldiers) are in high morale,” he said.

Philippine military spokesman Lt. Col. Ramon Zagala confirmed the fighting but refused to give more details.

Zagala told DZBB radio station that the Filipino peacekeepers are safe.

Contingency plans ready

Earlier on Saturday, presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said the  Philippine government has contingency plans for at least 75 Filipino peacekeepers locked in a standoff with Syrian  rebels at Golan Heights.

“There is contingency plan, but we’ll leave it to the military to speak on what are the possible next steps,” she said. “Our men are holding their ground and we are all hoping that the tension will ease and that they will be brought home safely.”

Valte said “The AFP (Armed Forces) continues to brief President Benigno Aquino III on a regular basis.”

She appealed to Filipinos to offer prayers for the safety of the peacekeepers.

In an earlier press statement, the Armed Forces of the Philippines said Syrian anti-government armed elements occupied positions held by Fijian peacekeepers and demanded they surrender their firearms. The 43 Fijian peacekeepers have been taken hostage.

There are currently 1,200 UN peacekeepers serving in UNDOF from the Philippines, Fiji, India, Ireland, Nepal and the Netherlands.