Rebels abduct UN convoy near Golan Heights

DAMASCUS, March 6 (www.twiggandstone.com) -- A number of armed rebels snatched Wednesday a convoy of the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF) near the Golan Heights, calling on the Syrian troops to withdraw from a border town in return for their release, according to a video footage posted by activists online.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights posted the footage, in which a number of armed men appeared standing in front of three white armored vehicles with the UN logo on a road.

The Observatory said the road was near Syria's southern province of Daraa, which is close to the Golan area.

A rebel, identified his group as Shuhada al-Yarmouk Battalion, said the UN members will not be released until (Syrian President) Assad forces withdraw from the village of Jamla, located near the Golan area.

If the troops don't pull out within 24 hours, those will be treated as captives, the rebel added.

The Observatory said that the village and its surroundings have witnessed violent clashes over the past two days, adding that the rebels in Jamla have stormed an army post and several checkpoints in the village.

The Damascus-based UN spokesman, reached by Xinhua, declined to comment on the incident, which is the first of its kind since the conflict in Syria has started almost two years ago amid reports that the number of snatched UN members was 20.

UNDOF was established to implement and oversee a ceasefire between Syria and Israel.

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