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Video posted of U.N. observers held in Syria


Cairo, Mar 7 (EFE).- A video uploaded to the Internet Thursday by Syrian activists shows six members of a group of 21 U.N. observers taken prisoner by Syrian rebels near the Golan Heights.

In the footage, the peacekeepers, all from the Philippines, are inside a home and dressed in military uniforms; one identified himself as a captain and said he and the other soldiers were safe.

The Martyrs of Yarmouk group claimed responsibility for detaining the U.N. troops and accused them of helping Syrian government forces deploy to positions outside the southern village of Jamla, which is near the Golan Heights and has been occupied by the insurgents for the past three days.

The captain said on the video, however, that civilians took them to the home after they were forced to stop while traveling near Jamla due to bombing in the area.

"The civilians helped us and now we're safe. They distributed us in different places for our safety and gave us good lodging, food and water," he said.

That version contrasts with the one provided Wednesday by the insurgents, who said they would not release the peacekeepers until Syrian President Bashar Assad's forces withdraw from the area outside Jamla.

The observers are members of a U.N. mission monitoring a demilitarized zone separating Syria from the Israeli-held Golan Heights, occupied in a six-day war in 1967.

The U.N. Security Council on Wednesday denounced the abduction of the observers and demanded their "immediate and unconditional" release.

According to figures from the Office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, more than 70,000 people have died since the uprising against Assad's government erupted two years ago.