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Philippines Demands Release Of UN Peacekeepers

The Philippines has strongly condemned the hostage-taking of 21 Filipino UN peacekeepers by Syrian rebels in the Golan Heights on the border between Syria and Israel and demanded their immediate release.

The soldiers, part of a contingent of 300 Filipino peacekeepers, were detained on March 6 by a group calling itself the "Martyrs of Yarmouk."

The rebels posted a YouTube video saying they will not be released until Syrian government forces withdraw from a Golan village.

The Philippines’ Foreign Ministry said that negotiations were under way to secure the soldiers' release.

The UN has deployed monitors in the Golan since the 1974 cease-fire between Israel and Syria.

Croatia announced last week it was withdrawing its peacekeeping troops from the area because it feared for the soldiers' safety.

Based on reporting by AP and AFP