Despite the numerous odds, 81 Filipino peacekeepers deployed to conflict-racked Golan Heights are still holding their positions despite being surrounded by Syrian anti-government forces Thursday morning.
Lt. Col. Ramon Zagala, AFP public affairs office chief, said that the stand-off between Filipino troops and Syrian rebels took place around 10 a.m. Syria time (4 a.m. Manila time).
Initially, the rebels occupied the positions of the Fijian 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