Syrian Golan Heights: Forty-three UN Peacekeepers held hostage by armed group
Syrian Golan Heights was in news in the fifth week of August 2014 after forty-three UN Peacekeepers from Fiji were held as hostage by an armed group of rebels. The UN Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF) Personnel were detained near Quneitra, during fighting between Syrian armed rebels and Syrian Arab Armed forces within the area of separation.
Apart from this, another lot of 81 peacekeepers from the Philippines have also been restricted to their positions in the vicinity of al-Ruwayhina and Burayqa. The incident occurred a day after the rebels occupied and took control of a crossing into the Israeli-occupied Golan after a long battle.
In recent years, the personnel of UNDOF have been detained several times by the rebel fighters. Last time, the peacekeepers were detained in March and May 2013. But those detainees were released safely and this time to, the United Nations is making efforts to secure the release of the detained peacekeepers.
Syrian Golan Heights
A basaltic plateau Golan Heights in south-western Syria is a place that has a political and strategic significance in the country and has been a point of conflict between Syria and Israel. At present, western two thirds of this region is occupied by Israel, whereas the eastern third is controlled by Syria. Golan Heights is surrounded by Yarmouk River in the south, the Sea of Galilee and Hula Valley in the west, Mount Hermon in the north, and the Raqqad Wadi in the east.
Essentially, Golan Heights is a demilitarized zone monitored by UNDOF on the basis of ceasefire agreement (armistice pact) of 1974 between Israel and Syria.