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Australia condemns detention of UN peacekeepers Syria, demands their release

  • Mideast Israel UN Syria Peacekeepers-1.jpg

    An armed group of men, not specified which group of rebels, gather at Syria's Quneitra border crossing between Syria and the Israeli-controlled Golan Heights, Friday, Aug. 29, 2014. It was unclear if the men were connected to an armed group that, the United Nations said, detained more than 40 U.N. peacekeepers during fighting in Syria early Thursday. The peacekeepers were detained on the Syrian side of the Golan Heights during a "period of increased fighting between armed elements and the Syrian Arab Armed Forces," the office of U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said in a statement. ( AP Photo/Ariel Schalit) (The Associated Press)

  • Mideast Israel UN Syria Peacekeepers-2.jpg

    An armed group of men, not specified which group of rebels, gather at Syria's Quneitra border crossing between Syria and the Israeli-controlled Golan Heights, Friday, Aug. 29, 2014. It was unclear if the men were connected to an armed group that, the United Nations said, detained more than 40 U.N. peacekeepers during fighting in Syria early Thursday. The peacekeepers were detained on the Syrian side of the Golan Heights during a "period of increased fighting between armed elements and the Syrian Arab Armed Forces," the office of U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said in a statement. ( AP Photo/Ariel Schalit) (The Associated Press)

Australia's foreign minister has criticized the detention of 44 Fijian peacekeepers by Syrian rebels and is calling for their unconditional release.

Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said in a statement Saturday that as a member of the U.N. Security Council, Australia "demands the unconditional and immediate release of all the detained United Nations peacekeepers."

The U.N. secretary-general's spokesman Stephane Dujarric told reporters the plight of dozens of U.N. peacekeepers whose mission monitors a 1974 disengagement accord between Syria and Israel remained "very, very fluid" on Friday, as talks aimed at their release stretched into a second day.

Some radio contact has been made with the 72 peacekeepers from the Philippines who have been surrounded and confined to their barracks. Another 44 peacekeepers from Fiji remain detained in the same area.