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United Nations peacekeepers sit in a bus leaving Jordanian army headquarters after a press conference following their release on the Syria-Jordan border, in Amman, yesterday.
AMMAN: The United Nations welcomed the release yesterday of 21 Filipino peacekeepers, who had been seized by Syrian rebels on the Golan Heights, as they crossed to freedom in Jordan after a three-day ordeal.
Philippine authorities also expressed relief at the release of the members of the UN Disengagement Observer Force.
A Jordanian military official said the peacekeepers were greeted by border guards as they crossed from Syria in the afternoon and “underwent medical examinations.”
They then boarded an army bus and were given a military escort to the east Amman headquarters of the armed forces where they were “handed over to the UN representative in Jordan, Costanza Farina, in the presence of the Philippines ambassador,” the official added in a statement.
An AFP correspondent said the peacekeepers were also greeted by Jordanian Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh, government spokesman Samih Maaytah and Chief of Staff Mashaal Al Zebn.
The peacekeepers are members of the UNDOF monitoring the armistice line between Syria and Israel that followed the 1973 Arab-Israeli war.
A video footage reportedly released by rebels who handed over the peacekeepers and posted by SITE Monitoring Service shows the soldiers shaking hands with insurgents as they cross a small stream to Jordan. The footage shows a man describing the event as a cameraman films the peacekeepers who are seen standing by a truck. “The UN observers are now in Jordanian territory. They were taken to the Jordan border and given to Jordanian authorities...,” the man is heard saying. AFP