Syria Rebels Free 21 UN Peacekeepers
Rebel faction held them 4 days, gave in to pressure
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Mar 9, 2013 10:15 AM CST
A UN peacekeeper from the Philippines crosses to Syria at the Quneitra Crossing between Syria and the Israeli-controlled Golan Heights Friday. He wasn't among those abducted.   (AP Photo/Ariel Schalit)

(Newser) – Syrian rebels today freed 21 UN peacekeepers after holding them hostage for four days, ending a sudden entanglement with the world body that earned those trying to oust President Bashar Assad a flood of negative publicity. The Filipino peacekeepers, part of a force that has spent four decades monitoring an Israeli-Syrian cease-fire without incident, safely crossed from Syria to Jordan this afternoon. The peacekeepers were seized Wednesday and were held in the village of Jamlah in southwestern Syria, near Jordan and the Israeli-controlled Golan Heights.

Their captors from the Martyrs of the Yarmouk Brigades initially said they would only release the hostages once Syrian troops withdrew from the area. However, as the abduction made headlines, the rebels eventually dropped their demand and began negotiating a safe passage for the peacekeepers with UN officials. Many rebel groups operate independently, despite efforts by the Syrian opposition to unify the fighters under one command. The abduction appeared to have been such a local initiative, and leaders of the political opposition repeatedly urged the Jamlah rebels to free the hostages.

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Mar 9, 2013 12:54 PM CST
Another indication that extremists will rule this country and kill Americans in the future
Mar 9, 2013 10:44 AM CST
This incident proves the example of just what a mess the Syrian Revolt is in, and how separate organizations are looking to get their piece of the pie. This situation makes for strange bedfellows of the type we don't wanna become involved with -- a la Iraq and Afghanistan. A lot of these Middle Eastern nations are so fragmented their "citizens" are loyal to tribal chieftans and do not have a sense of nationhood. Which reminds me of some of the current political shenanigans among some of the States here in the U.S. Sad.
Mar 9, 2013 10:44 AM CST
Who can possibly think that giving these yahoos weapons is a good idea?