UN officials continue to express hope that a deal to release the 21 Philippines soldiers captured by the Syrian rebel fights in the Golan Heights, but a previous rebel promise to release them Friday morning appears to have fallen through.
The Philippines government says they are not entirely clear what happened, but the rebels refused to turn over the captured troops and reiterated their demand for the Syrian government to abandon a nearby village to them in return for the hostages’ freedom.
The UN didn’t address the Friday morning failure, but says that a later promise to release them Friday night fell through because “due to the late hour and darkness” and hoped a new deal could come to release them on Saturday.
Rebels have hinted that they may keep the UN troops because of their value as human shields, claiming that the Syrian military could kill “as many as 1,000 people” in the area if they were free to attack, which owing to concern for the UN reaction to killing the hostages, they are not.
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