Syrian rebels want troop pullout to free UN men

Rebels holding 21 UN peacekeepers near the Golan Heights in southern Syria say government forces must leave the area before they free their “guests”, an activist in touch with the fighters said on Thursday.

Rami Abdelrahman of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights quoted a spokesman for the “Martyrs of Yarmouk” rebel brigade as saying the peacekeepers were being held as “guests” in the village of Jamla, about a mile from a ceasefire line with the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights.

“He said they will not be harmed. But the rebels want the Syrian army and tanks to pull back from the area,” Abdelrahman said after speaking to the rebel spokesman on Thursday morning. The capture of the UN peacekeepers close to Israeli-held territory was another sign that Syria’s conflict could spill over to neighbouring countries.

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