Peacekeepers Pull Off 'Greatest Escape' From Syria Militants
They were outnumbered in Golan Heights
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Aug 31, 2014 3:50 PM CDT
In this photo from Philippine armed forces, military chief Gen. Gregorio Catapang, center, reacts after learning about the safe repositioning of Filipino peacekeepers.   (AP Photo)

(Newser) – Under cover of darkness, 40 Filipino peacekeepers escaped their besieged outpost in the Golan Heights after a seven-hour gunbattle with Syrian rebels, Philippine officials said today. Al-Qaeda-linked insurgents still hold captive 44 Fijian troops.The getaway, combined with the departure of another entrapped group of Filipino troops, marked a major step forward in a crisis that erupted on Thursday when Syrian rebels began targeting the peacekeeping forces. After insurgents from the Nusra Front seized the Fijian peacekeepers and surrounded their Filipino colleagues, 35 peacekeepers were successfully escorted out of a UN encampment in Breiqa by Irish and Filipino forces on board armored vehicles.

But another 40 peacekeepers were besieged at a second encampment by more than 100 gunmen who rammed the camp's gates with their trucks and fired mortar rounds. The Filipinos returned fire in self-defense, Philippine military officials said. "Although they were surrounded and outnumbered, they held their ground for seven hours," Philippine military chief Gen. Gregorio Pio Catapang said, adding that there were no Filipino casualties. As night fell and a ceasefire took hold, the 40 Filipinos fled, traveling for nearly two hours before meeting up with other UN forces, who escorted them to safety, Philippine officials said. "We may call it the greatest escape," Catapang told reporters in Manila.

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Sep 2, 2014 7:49 PM CDT
Hats off to the Irish UN contingency for their assist to their Filipino comrades. "May the enemies of Ireland never meet a friend."
big john ok
Aug 31, 2014 5:49 PM CDT
Where the hell are the Israeli's I thought they where all about killing some Muslim extremists?
Aug 31, 2014 5:03 PM CDT
Fair play and well done to the UN contingent of Irish Rapid Reaction Force securing the extraction corridor and rescuing their Filipino UN comrades. Irish Defence Forces Press Office Release: