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Thu, 28 Aug 2014 20:55:10 +0000
(GOLAN HEIGHTS, Syria) -- The United Nations said Thursday that three peacekeepers were detained by an armed group in the Golan Heights area of Syria.
The kidnapping occurred "during a period of increased fighting...between armed elements and Syrian Arab Armed Forces," the U.N. said. A U.N. statement also noted that 81 more peacekeepers with the U.N.'s Disengagement Observer Force were "restricted to their positions."
The U.S. State Department later confirmed that the group that kidnapped the peacekeepers was Jahbat al-Nusra, which has been designated a terrorist group by the U.N. Security Council. The U.S. condemned the action, demanding the "unconditional and immediate release of all U.N. peacekeepers."
UNDOF forces are in Syria as a means of helping to maintain a cease-fire between Syria and Israel, agreed to after their 1973 war. The mission's mandate was recently extended through the end of December.
Peacekeepers from the same U.N. group were held by armed elements in March 2013 and May 2013 and were safely released. The UNDOF encompasses 1,223 peacekeepers from six nations.
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