The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) on Friday announced that it is in communications with the 81 Filipino peacekeepers who are currently in a stand-off with Syrian rebel forces in the Golan Heights.
This was disclosed by AFP public affairs office chief Lt. Col. Ramon Zagala.
He added that the Filipino contingent is doing fine and that their families in the Philippines are kept abreast with their situation.
Zagala also stressed that they are also in communication with the United Nations regarding the incident.
The stand-off ensued from refusal of the Filipino contingent to surrender their weapons to Syrian rebels who encircled their position.
This took place around 10:00 a.m. Thursday (Syria time).
Initially, the rebels occupied the positions of the Fijian contingent of the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF) in the Golan Heights and demanded that they surrender their firearms.
“However, upon surrendering their firearms, the 43 Fijian Peacekeepers were taken hostage,” Zagala stressed.
Later, the Syrian rebels surrounded the Philippine contingent’s encampments with Fijian hostages in tow and demanded that the Filipino troops surrender their firearms, the AFP public affairs chief.
“The Philippine peacekeepers held their ground and demonstrated their resolve to defend their positions. They did not surrender their firearms as they may in turn be held hostage themselves. This resulted in a stand-off which is still the prevailing situation at this time as UN officials try to peacefully resolve the situation,” he added.
Zagala said the Philippine government and the United Nations are in close coordination and are working together to ensure the safety and security of the Filipino troops in the stand-off. PNA