Twenty UN peacekeepers have been detained by ‘Syrian rebels’, which have been identified as members of the Syrian Opposition, at Observation Post 58 near the Golan Heights.
According to a UN statement “The U.N. observers were on a regular supply mission and were stopped near Observation Post 58, which had sustained damage and was evacuated this past weekend following heavy combat in close proximity, at Al Jamlah.”
A team has been sent from the UN to “assess the situation and attempt a resolution” according to a UN spokesman.
Videos were posted on YouTube today which showed the UN observers being detained by the rebels.
Today, the UK government’s foreign secretary, William Hague, said that the UK will be sending armoured vehicles, and £1 million worth of other support to the Syrian opposition. The Arab League has issued a statement saying that Arab states are free to offer the opposition military support, and has offered the opposition a seat at the League.
Many independent observers have expressed concern that aid is being given to the Syrian opposition when they are obviously disorganised and engage in activities such as the hostage taking of the UN observers.
There has been significant criticism of the decision of William Hague and others in the UK government from members of the opposition, and from within their own parties.
Labour MP Peter Hain accused Hague of “making the situation worse” by not pushing hard enough for a diplomatic solution. Hague replied that, “every possibility has been given to the regime to negotiate.”
While Sir Menzies Campbell, a senior MP for the Liberal Democrats raised the 10th anniversary of what he called the “mistaken military action” in Iraq and said that many people fear a “drift” towards military intervention in Syria.
Russia has also criticised support of the Syrian opposition, stating that the decision to send aid to the rebels will only serve to intensify the civil war and encourage rebels and extremists.
Ironically, William Hague said that Syria was a ‘hotbed’ for jihadists, when there is evidence that the jihadists exist within the opposition, including a significant number of al-Qaeda extremists.
Hague has also accused the Syrian government of failing to engage in a diplomatic dialogue, which is contrary to the public statements made by the Syrian president Assad.
UN high Commissioner for Refugees Antonio Guteres has said that Syria is “spiralling towards a full-scale disaster.” Latest figures from the UN show that up to 70,000 people have been killed and a million refugees have fled abroad, including 400,000 since the beginning of this year.