Peacekeepers in Golan Heights can't go back to posts

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 07 2014 09:55 PM | Updated as of Sep 09 2014 11:46 PM

MANILA - The Filipino peacekeepers currently in Golan Heights may no longer go back to their posts that were held by the Syrian rebels in a previous standoff.

Col. Roberto Ancan, chief of the military’s Peacekeeping Operations Center, said it would be risky to go back there.

Instead, the troops are keeping themselves busy at Camp Ziouani doing training on explosive ordinance and disposal, first aid, combat life support, and others, he said.

The 75 peacekeepers, who were stationed at Position 68 and Position 69, were surrounded by rebels linked to the al Qaeda network last August 28.

United Nations Disengagement Force commander, Lt. Gen. Iqbal Singh Singha, ordered the troops to surrender their firearms in exchange for the Fijian peacekeepers captured by the rebels. But the Filipinos refused.

Those in Position 69 managed to extricate themselves shortly after the rebels attacked. Those in position 68, however, clashed with the rebels for around seven hours.

Singha again ordered the troops to surrender their firearms, but the Filipinos – on a directive from the Armed Forces of the Philippines – did not.

Under the cover of darkness, the Filipino troops then started their “greatest escape” plan.

All 75 soldiers are now in Camp Ziouani. They were joined there by 25 other Filipinos who also pulled out from Position 60 also due to imminent danger.

"It’s not safe anymore," said Ancan, noting that Positions 68, 69 and 60 are near the Syrian territory.

Filipino troops are still manning one position, Position 80, which is on the Israel side.

They will all be pulled out in October.