A group of around 30 armed Syrian rebels attacked a convoy of UN Disengagement Observer Force troops along the Syria-Israel border today, capturing 21 of them. The troops, which are supposed to monitor the ceasefire between Syria and Israel from 1974, are believed to be from the Philippines.
UN Peacekeeping Chief Herve Ladsous says that the group, which called itself the Martyrs of Yarmouk, have close ties with a number of rebel factions within Syria, and the UN Security Council is calling for their unconditional release.
Initial reports from rebel factions were that the kidnappings were aimed at demanding the UN Security Council impose regime change in Syria, but since then the video from the specific group involved has accused the UN troops of being in league with Assad and demanding that the Assad government withdraw from a disputed village in Golan.
If Assad doesn’t cede the village to rebel fighters within 24 hours, the rebels threatened to treat the UN troops as “prisoners of war.” Syrian rebel factions have regularly executed captured troops, though it is unclear if they would immediately execute the UN troops in this case.