Israel helped UN troops leave Golan hostage zone: army

Israel helped eight UN peacekeepers redeploy from an isolated post in the part of the Golan ceasefire zone where 21 of their comrades are being held hostage by Syrian rebels, the military said on Friday.

The troops -- all Filipinos, like the hostages -- left their positions overnight and moved through Israeli-held territory to join up with comrades in the UN Disengagement Observer Force further north along the armistice line, an army spokeswoman said.

"Eight UNDOF soldiers were evacuated from a post located within the demilitarised zone in the Syrian Golan Heights," the spokeswoman told AFP, adding that Israeli troops escorted them north to another UN base near the Quneitra border crossing.

Israeli news website Ynet said that the eight men were based near Jamla village, the area where their 21 Philippine comrades were snatched on Wednesday, and received orders to redeploy to the UN's Ein Zivanit base.

UNDOF has cut down the number of patrols in the ceasefire zone because of the abduction and may further review its security, a UN official said on Thursday.

The peacekeeping force has been in the Golan since 1974 monitoring the armistice between Syria and Israel that followed the 1973 Arab-Israeli war.

Israel has voiced fears that the departure of UNDOF troops could leave a vacuum in the belt between Syria and the Israeli-occupied sector of the Golan, leaving it open to infiltration by hardline militant groups.