AFP: Pinoy peacekeepers in Syria safe
MANILA, Philippines - The military on Tuesday said that Filipino peacekeepers in the Golan Heights are safe amid tensions caused by the chemical attacks allegedly staged by the Syrian government.
Armed Forces public affairs chief Lt. Col. Ramon Zagala said members of the Philippine contingent have been provided with necessary safety equipment and facilities.
“Our troops are under the United Nations. That alone is a guarantee that if there is an attack by whatever force against them, our United Nations-led Philippine battalion will be protected,” Zagala said in a press conference.
“We are confident that in the event of a chemical attack, our troops will be well-protected,” he added.
Zagala also said the peacekeepers have been provided with masks, suits, gloves, communication devices and bunkers.
Measures have also been undertaken to prevent the abduction of Philippine peacekeepers.
Golan Heights has been the subject of a territorial conflict between Israel and Syria. The Philippines has been deploying troops to Golan Heights since 2009 as part of its commitment to maintain global peace.
Tensions in Syria rose after more than 1,400 persons, including hundreds of children, were killed in a chemical attack allegedly staged by the Assad regime.
US President Barack Obama is now seeking congressional approval of military action against Syria in a move that is seen to trigger debates worldwide.
Members of the 6th Philippine Contingent faced various risks during their tour of duty, including abductions by Syrian rebels and clashes between government and rebel forces.
The first abduction occurred last March when 21 Filipino soldiers were seized in a ceasefire zone between Syria and Israel. Four peacekeepers were also kidnapped in the same area on May 7.
All the 25 peacekeepers were released by their captors but the kidnappings have raised concerns among countries deploying peacekeepers to the UN.
In June, a member of the same Philippine contingent was injured after mortar rounds believed to have been fired by Syrian rebels landed inside Camp Ziouni, a UN logistics headquarters in the Golan Heights.