Syrian troops, rebels clash in south near area where opposition gunmen took UN peacekeepers

Syrian activists say new clashes have erupted between government troops and rebels near an area where gunmen fighting President Bashar Assad's forces abducted 21 U.N. peacekeepers.

Rami Abdul-Rahman of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says the army is battling opposition fighters in the southern province of Daraa, the birthplace of the 2-year-old revolt against Assad.

Thursday's fighting is concentrated on the edge of the Syrian village of Jamlah, where gunmen took hostage 21 U.N. peacekeepers from the Philippines on Wednesday.

The peacekeepers patrol the Israel-Syria cease-fire zone in the Golan Heights. They were abducted allegedly while they were near Jamlah.

In an online video, a man identified as a spokesman for the Martyrs of Yarmouk Brigades said his group will hold the peacekeepers until Assad's forces withdraw from Jamlah.