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U.N. seeks more time to replace Austrians on Golan: paper

VIENNA (Reuters) - The head of U.N. peacekeeping operations has asked Austria for more time to line up replacements for Austrian troops due to be withdrawn from a Golan Heights buffer zone between Syria and Israel within weeks. "Austria has to make us a better offer," Herve Ladsous told Austrian paper Die Presse in an interview published on Wednesday. "To be completely honest, we need more time."

UN battles to reinforce Golan peacekeeping force

The United Nations scrambled Friday to find fresh troops for its beleaguered Golan Heights peacekeeping force, which Russia said is in "dire straits" as it offered to help. President Vladimir Putin said Russian troops could replace almost 380 soldiers that Austria says it will withdraw from the ceasefire zone between Israel and Syria because of the increased danger from the Syrian civil war.

U.N. Security Council condemns detention of peacekeepers in Golan

The U.N. Security Council on Wednesday issued a statement strongly condemning "armed elements" of the Syrian opposition for holding four peacekeepers in the Golan Heights. "The members of the Security Council strongly condemned the detention of four United Nations Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF) peacekeepers from the Philippine Battalion within the Area of Limitation in the vicinity of Al Jamla," the press statement said, referring to the area where the peacekeepers were monitoring a 1974 cease-fire agreement between Syria and Israel.

Philippines welcomes release of peacekeepers

The Philippine government on Sunday welcomed the release of its 21 UN peacekeepers after they were freed by Syrian rebels and crossed into Jordan, where officials waited to receive them. The troops, members of a UN force monitoring a 1974 ceasefire between Syria and Israel, were abducted on Wednesday. President Benigno Aquino "was very happy to receive the news," his spokeswoman Abigail Valte said. "The president was very concerned and this is very good news indeed."

Philippines welcomes release of peacekeepers

The Philippine government on Sunday welcomed the release of its 21 UN peacekeepers after they were freed by Syrian rebels and crossed to Jordan, where officials waited to receive them. The troops, members of a UN force monitoring a 1974 ceasefire between Syria and Israel, were abducted on Wednesday. "The Philippine government and its people express deep appreciation to the Jordanian government and military officials on the successful safe passing over to the Jordanian side of all our 21 Filipino peacekeepers," a statement said.

Philippines says Syrian rebels firm on hostage demands

The Philippines said Friday that rebels who are holding 21 Filipino peacekeepers hostage in the Golan Heights are insisting Syrian troops leave the area before releasing their captives. The refusal by the Syrian rebels to compromise had dampened hopes of the UN peacekeepers being released quickly, and forced the government to step up its negotiation efforts, foreign affairs spokesman Raul Hernandez said.
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