The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) on Friday said that the Filipino peacekeepers, involved in the Golan Heights stand-off with Syrian rebels, are a well equipped and armed force.
Col. Roberto Ancan, AFP Peacekeeping Operations Center commander, said the Filipino soldiers involved in this tiff are armed with M-4 assault rifles, M-60 light machineguns, K-3 squad automatic weapons and .45 caliber pistols.
“(Our soldiers) have sufficient ammunition to defend themselves,” he added.
Ancan said that the Filipino peacekeepers in the Golan Heights are concentrated in Positions 68 and 69.
The number of Filipino soldiers in Position 68 are 40 and those in Position 69 are placed at 35 or a total of 75 (not 81 as earlier reported).
The two outposts are four kilometers away from each other and are fortified.
Ancan said that no firefight took place in the Filipino positions.
“No actual engagement took place in the Filipino positions since the stand-off took place Thursday,” he added.
AFP spokesperson Major Gen. Domingo Tutaan said the Filipino contingent is standing their ground.
Fijian soldiers, under orders from Syria rebels, told the Filipino forces to lay down their arms, an edict the Filipino soldiers stoutly rejected.
Tutaan also declined to comment on whether the Filipino force has artillery support.
Meanwhile, Ancan added that the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF) is also in constant communication with the Filipino troopers.
He stressed that the Filipino peacekeepers are mandated to defend their positions or facilities as mandated by UN rules of engagement.
Ancan also said the Syrian rebels whom the Filipino soldiers are now in a stand-off are not part of the extremist Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) but the less radical group opposing the Syria government.
“They are not ISIS; we just consider them as anti-government forces,” he pointed out. PNA