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Philippines Says Peacekeepers Attacked by Syrian Rebels in Golan

Syrian fighters have attacked Filipino peacekeepers stationed in the Golan Heights, days after taking dozens of Fijian peacekeepers hostage.

A group of Filipino soldiers exchanged gunfire with Syrian gunmen after coming under attack in the morning, Philippine Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin said in a text message today. Another unit of troops retreated to safer ground, he added. There are no reported casualties, military spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Ramon Zagala told reporters today in Manila.

Fighting between rebels and the forces of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has rattled the United Nations peacekeeping mission in Golan, which has monitored the buffer zone between Syria and Israel since 1974. As of July 31, the force had 1,223 troops from Fiji, India, Ireland, Nepal, Netherlands and the Philippines, according to the United Nations.

An armed Syrian group has seized 43 Fijian peacekeepers, the United Nations said on Aug. 28. The Philippine Defense Ministry said this month 331 of its troops in Golan will be sent home at the end of their tour of duty in October.

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