Philippines moves to pull peacekeepers out of Golan Heights

The Philippines is planning to withdraw is troops from the UN peacekeeping contingent in the Golan Heights after the recent abductions, the country’s foreign minister said on Friday.

Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario said he has made recommendations to President Benigno Aquino III to pull-out 

the 342 Filipinos in the UN Disengagement Observer Force, after four of them were seized on Tuesday, the second set of abductions since March.

“We believe that our exposure now is beyond tolerable limits,? he told a media forum in Manila.

“As soon as the president says go, we will begin to pull out our troops as quickly as possible.?

The four Filipino peacekeepers were seized by the rebel Yarmouk Martyrs Brigade on Tuesday as they patrolled the area of separation near al-Jamlah.

“Negotiations are going on with the group that has allegedly abducted these peacekeepers,? Del Rosario said.

On March, 21 Filipinos were captured by Syrian rebels who demanded that Syrian regime troops should withdraw from the south of the country. They were released unharmed three days later.

The Philippines has been sending troops to the UN mission to enforce a ceasefire in the Israeli-held Golan Heights since 2009.

The current contingent joined in November, and would normally serve a tour of duty of three to six months.

 “It would not be replaced according to the plan submitted on Friday, but this would not affect the commitment of the Philippines to other UN peacekeeping missions,” Del Rosario said.

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