Syrian Militants Still Hold Fijian Peacekeeper Equipment, UN Says

UN deputy spokesman Farhan Haq told reporters Wednesday that 'the possession and use of UN-marked assets by non-UN people is of concern to the United Nations.'

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Fijian UN peacekeepers released by al-Qaida-linked group Nusra Front in Syria, September 11, 2014.
Fijian UN peacekeepers released by al-Qaida-linked group Nusra Front in Syria, September 11, 2014. Credit: Reuters

The United Nations says Syrian militants did not return the weapons, uniforms and cars taken from 45 Fijian peacekeepers who were released last week after two weeks of captivity on the Syrian-controlled side of the Golan Heights.

UN deputy spokesman Farhan Haq told reporters Wednesday that "the possession and use of UN-marked assets by non-UN people is of concern to the United Nations."

The Fijians were captured Aug. 28 by the Al-Qaida-linked Nusra Front, who have been battling Syrian government forces in the contested buffer zone between Syria and Israel. The 1,200-strong UN force has increasingly been caught in the spillover from Syria's civil war.

The UN withdrew many other peacekeepers this past weekend. Haq said they left with all critical equipment including weapons, maps and data.

An Israel Defense Forces spokeswoman said last week the Fijian peacekeepers had crossed into Israeli territory.

The Fijians were kidnapped last month by the Nusra Front, an group battling the Syrian army, after the militants overran a crossing point in the so-called disengagement zone that the UN peacekeeping mission known as UNDOF has monitored since 1974. The cease-fire line was agreed after a 1973 Arab-Israeli war.

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