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UN says detained peacekeepers in Syria are 'safe'

The Syrian flag flies in the village of Quneitra, as seen from the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights, as smoke billows during fighting between forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar Assad and rebels on August 29, 2014UN officials have received assurances that 44 peacekeepers detained by Syrian rebels in the Golan Heights are safe and in good health, a UN spokesman said. Syrian armed fighters, including some linked to the Al-Qaeda affiliate Al-Nusra Front, stormed a Golan Heights crossing on Wednesday, taking 44 troops from Fiji who were forced to surrender their weapons. The rebels surrounded another group of 72 soldiers from the Philippines serving in the UN Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF) that is tasked with monitoring a ceasefire between Syria and Israel since 1974. The United Nations did not say whether the 44 Fijian soldiers had been released, but a statement suggested progress was being made in negotiations to secure their freedom.

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