UN calls on 'countries with influence' to press for release of 45 abducted UN peacekeepers

The U.N. Security Council is calling on "countries with influence" to press al-Qaida-linked insurgents to release 45 U.N. peacekeepers from Fiji abducted last week in the Golan Heights.

A press statement approved by all 15 council members after a briefing Wednesday by U.N. peacekeeping chief Herve Ladsous again demanded the immediate and unconditional release of the Fijian peacekeepers.

After Syrian rebels captured a border crossing near the abandoned town of Quneitra last week, fighters from al-Qaida's Syria branch, the Nusra Front, abducted the Fijian peacekeepers and surrounded two Filipino contingents. The peacekeepers were monitoring the buffer zone between Israel and Syria.

The council demanded that all groups abandon areas controlled by the U.N. peacekeepers and the Quneitra crossing, and return all vehicles, weapons and equipment belonging to the peacekeepers.