‘Great escape’ for UN troops trapped on Golan Heights

UNITED NATIONS: All the Philippine peacekeepers trapped by Islamist militants on the Syrian side of the Golan Heights have been moved to a secure place, according to the United Nations and the Philippines.

The United Nations said on Sunday the 40 peacekeepers left during a ceasefire agreed with “armed elements” in the area shortly after midnight local time and were moved to a safe place.

Gen Gre­gorio Catapang, the Philip­pines’ armed forces chief, told reporters that Israel and Syria helped in what was the “greatest esc­ape” of Filipino troops after engaging about 100 Islamist militants surrounding them in a seven-hour firefight.

The UN peacekeepers escaped in the middle of the night while the rebels were sleeping, he said.

“This attack prompted UNDOF to reposition our troops to a more secure position within the mission area,” Gen Catapang said, referring to the UN peacekeeping force that has monitored the disengagement zone between Israel and Syria since 1974.

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