The Philippine government said today that talks were under way to secure the release of 21 unarmed UN peacekeepers held by Syrian rebels.
The Filipino troops were abducted on Wednesday by the Martyrs of Yarmouk rebel brigade near a ceasefire line with the Golan Heights.
It's the first time in the UN's 40-year mission patrolling the Israel-Syrian armistice line that peacekeepers have run into trouble.
The three officers and 18 enlisted soldiers were unarmed as they were "on a logistics run," according to Philippine military spokesman Colonel Arnulfo Marcelo Burgos.
Clashes between the rebels and government erupted near Jamlah, where the soldiers were being held today.
The Yarmouk brigade said the UN troops weren't hostages but were being sheltered for their own protection.
But a rebel video accused the UN forces of assisting Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's forces to retake areas seized by the rebels a few days ago.
A Yarmouk spokesman said the peacekeepers "will not be released until after Bashar Assad's forces withdraw from the village of Jamlah bordering Israel."
Videos today appeared to show the captured men were being looked after well.
The UN security council demanded the immediate release of the kidnapped personell, pointing out that their presence was nothing to do with Syria's internal politics.
Russian UN ambassador and security council president Vitaly Churkin said: "They are there on a completely different mission, so there is no reason at all under any circumstances, any kind of sick imagination, to try to harm those people."
The Western-backed Syrian National Coalition said it was in contact with the Yarmouk brigade to release the UN forces, but denied they had been kidnapped.
It's not clear how much sway the coalition holds over the local forces holding the rebels however.
n Arab foreign ministers offered the opposition Syrian National Coalition the country's vacant seat at the Arab League on Wednesday on the condition they form a representative executive council.
The league suspended Syria's membership in 2011 after Mr Assad failed to abide by its plan to end the conflict.
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