March 6 - Syrian rebels seize a convoy of around 20 UN peacekeepers near the Golan Heights, saying that the peacekeeping force is aiding Assad forces. Mana Rabiee reports.
The conflict in Syria continues to spill over. Rebels seized a convoy of around 20 U.N. peacekeepers near the Golan Heights Wednesday. The capture was announced in online videos and confirmed later by the U.N. The rebels demand forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad pull back from a nearby rebel-held village called Jamla, which saw heavy fighting in recent days. "We will not release them until after the Assad forces have withdrawn from the border village of Jamla back to their positions, and if they do not withdraw back within 24 hours, we will deal with these forces as prisoners." The U.N. maintains a force on the Golan Heights to monitor a decades-old ceasefire between Syria and Israel. But rebels accused the peacekeepers here of helping Assad forces retake Jamla. At the United Nations, strong condemnation. Acting Security Council President Vitaly Churkin said its peacekeepers have nothing to do with the conflict in Syria. (SOUNDBITE) (English) RUSSIAN AMBASSADOR TO THE U.N. AND ACTING SECURITY COUNCIL PRESIDENT VITALY CHURKIN SAYING: "They are there on a completely different mission. So, there is no reason at all, under any circumstances, any kind of a sick imagination, to try to harm those people." The U.N. says it is now in talks with the captors to free the peacekeepers immediately.