Al Qaeda Rebels to Try UN Peacekeepers Under 'Divine Law'
The 45 UN peacekeepers from Fiji who were abducted by Al Qaeda-linked Al-Nusra Front rebel forces on the Syrian side of the Golan Heights last Wednesday are to "stand trial" under sharia (Islamic law), according to a Britain-based monitoring group.
Rami Abdul Rahman, head of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, said that the commander of Al-Nusra Front has declared that the 45 peacekeepers will be tried under "divine law," according to Asharq Al-Aswat as cited by Yedioth Aharonoth.
It was revealed on Monday that the rebels issued three demands for the release of the peacekeepers: to be taken off the UN terrorist list, delivery of humanitarian aid to parts of the Syrian capital Damascus, and compensation for three of its fighters it says were killed in a shootout with UN officers.
In response, the 15 members of the UN Security Council on Wednesday demanded the "immediate and unconditional release" of the Fijians, denouncing their abduction "in the strongest terms."
The statement added that "there can never be any justification for attacks on or the detention of UN peacekeepers." Fiji has issued a similar statement calling for the release of its soldiers.
In addition to the 45 Fijian troops, 72 Filipino troops were surrounded by the rebel forces; however, the two units of soldiers from the Philippines managed to escaped over the weekend into Israel.
The Fijians and Filipinos are part of the UN Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF) established in 1974 to maintain the ceasefire between Syria and Israel forces in the Golan, and oversee the implementation of a disengagement agreement.
The Israeli-Syrian border has been growing increasingly tense, as fighting between Syrian President Bashar Assad's forces and rebel forces has occasionally spilled over.
Just on Thursday afternoon the IDF returned fire on a Syrian army position after a mortar shell struck Israeli territory. Several mortar shells have hit Israeli territory in recent weeks, and the IDF shot down a Syrian drone last week after it strayed into Israeli airspace.