Syrian rebels calling themselves “Martyrs of Yarmouk” kidnapped 20 United Nations observers stationed at the Golan Heights border and are demanding that Syrian President Bashar Assad’s soldiers withdraw from the nearby village of Jamla.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights posted a video , which said it received it from rebels, showing men standing next to vehicles with the letters UN written on them. The observers were accused of collaborating with Assad against the rebels.
One of the men was in civilian clothes and said, “If no withdrawal is made within 24 hours we will treat them as prisoners,” he said.
The Jamla village and its surrounding areas have witnessed violent clashes in the past couple of days, and rebel fighters from several factions took hold of the rebels’ mortar division and several checkpoints in Jamla, according to the Observatory.
UN deputy spokesman Eduardo del Buey said the observers, who monitor the 1974 ceasefire between Israel and Syria, were on “a regular supply mission” when the armed men stopped them.
Heavy fighting in the area damaged the post last week and the observers were evacuated to another location.
Last week, the United Nations admitted that one of its officials was kidnapped last month but gave no details, and it is not known where he was taken.
The United Nations condemned the kidnapping and demanded the release of the observers.