UN convoy leaves Jamla as army bombs area
BEIRUT - A UN convoy that entered the Syrian village of Jamla on Friday to pick up 21 UN Philippine peacekeepers seized by Syrian rebels pulled out when the army shelled the area, a watchdog told AFP.
"When the UN vehicles entered into Jamla, the Syrian army shelled a nearby village. The UN cars then withdraw from Jamla," said Syrian Observatory for Human Rights director Rami Abdel Rahman, who said earlier that the group was willing to hand over their captives.
In New York, UN peacekeeping chief Herve Ladsous said Jamla was under intense bombardment from army forces, though he did not specify whether he was referring to the village or areas surrounding Jamla.
Ladsous also said he hoped a possible ceasefire would lead to the freeing of the peacekeepers, who have been held by rebels since Wednesday.
The UN Disengagement Observer Force has been tasked since 1974 with ensuring a ceasefire between Israel and Syria is respected in the Golan Heights, large parts of which are occupied by the Jewish state.
On Wednesday, the rebel Yarmuk Martyrs brigade claimed the capture of the Filipinos soldiers. The said they would hold them until troops loyal to President Bashar al-Assad withdrew from the area of Jamla, which lays east of the ceasefire line.
On Friday, the rebels called for a ceasefire, to allow the peacekeepers' evacuation.