UN peace soldiers ‘detained in Syria’

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The United Nations says 43 peacekeepers have been detained by an armed group in Syria during fighting and 81 others are trapped.

The office of UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon says the peacekeepers were detained on the Syrian side of the Golan Heights during a “period of increased fighting between armed elements and the Syrian Arab Armed Forces”.

The statement says another 81 peacekeepers are “currently being restricted to their positions in the vicinity of Ar Ruwayhinah and Burayqah”.

The statement said the United Nations “is making every effort to secure the release of the detained peacekeepers”.

They are part of UNDOF, the mission that has been monitoring a 1974 disengagement accord between Syria and Israel after their 1973 war.

The statement noted that UNDOF peacekeepers who were detained by armed forces in March and May were later safely released.

Currently, six countries contribute troops to the force: Fiji, India, Ireland, Nepal, Netherlands and the Philippines.

Meanwhile, the Islamic State group has killed dozens of Syrian soldiers it captured after over-running a military base, activists say.

The extremists reportedly shot some captives and used knives on others in the latest brutal mass killing attributed to them.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the militants rounded up the soldiers in the arid countryside near the Tabqa airfield yesterday, three days after seizing the base in heavy fighting.