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No Release for Seized UN Monitors

Their release had been expected today
By Matt Cantor,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 8, 2013 8:23 AM CST
No Release for Seized UN Monitors
A UN peacekeeper from the Philippines UNDOF force crosses to Syria at the Quneitra Crossing between Syria and the Israeli-controlled Golan Heights, Friday, March 8, 2013.   (AP Photo/Ariel Schalit)

(Newser) – The Philippine government was under the impression that Syrian rebels would release 21 UN monitors today—but that hasn't happened, it says. Officials say the rebels maintain that they won't release the monitors until Syrian government forces exit the Jamlah area, near the Golan Heights. "I don't know exactly know what happened, why the expected release did not happen, but the demand is still there," says a government rep, per the AP.

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The rebels seem to be worried that if they release the monitors, regime forces will seek to retake the area—and perhaps kill "as many as 1,000 people," says a rebel spokesman. Yesterday, rebels said they wanted the regime to clear out in order to provide a path out for the peacekeepers, the New York Times notes. The peacekeepers said in videos posted online that they were being treated well; the rebels' own accounts of the situation have appeared contradictory. Meanwhile, the eight remaining members of the peacekeeping battalion abandoned their posts today and retreated into Israel, Haaretz reports. (Read more Syria stories.)

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