Trapped peacekeepers at Golan Heights moved to secure area: Philippine military chief

MANILA Sat Aug 30, 2014 9:03pm EDT

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MANILA (Reuters) - All Philippine peacekeepers trapped at Golan heights have been moved to a more secure place within the U.N. Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF) mission, the Philippines' armed forces chief said on Sunday.

Israel and Syria helped in what was the "greatest escape" of Filipino troops after engaging about a hundred Islamist militants surrounding them in a seven-hour firefight, General Gregorio Catapang told a press conference, adding the troops escaped in the middle of the night while the rebels were sleeping.

"This attack prompted UNDOF to reposition our troops to a more secure position within the mission area," Catapang said. "Currently, Filipino peacekeepers from both Position 68 and 69 have been successfully repositioned to Camp Ziuoani."

"The teamwork demonstrated by our fellow UNDOF troop-contributing countries and the United Nations is exemplary. Other governments including the United States and Qatar also played a role in the safeguarding our peacekeepers," he said.

The troops are part of UNDOF, a U.N. force that has monitored the disengagement zone between Israel and Syria since 1974 in the wake of the 1973 Arab-Israeli war.

(Reporting by Manny Mogato; Writing by Rosemarie Francisco; Editing by David Gregorio)

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