Fiji says its captive troops are shown in video

Fiji said Thursday that its 45 United Nations peacekeepers being held captive in Syria are shown in a video posted on YouTube.

PTI| Updated: Sep 11, 2014, 14:48 PM IST

Suva: Fiji said Thursday that its 45 United Nations peacekeepers being held captive in Syria are shown in a video posted on YouTube.

The 15-minute video shows two men speaking in Arabic with the Fijian troops sitting cross-legged in the background. Near the end of the video, one of the Fijian soldiers speaks in English.

He says it's September 9 and a "very happy day." "We've been informed that we will be released soon, and we are all very happy to be going home," he says.

He says all the soldiers are alive, safe and well. "I would like to assure you that we have not been harmed in any way," he says. He says the men have been treated well by the Nusra Front, given that the group has limited resources.

Fijian government spokeswoman Sharon Smith-Johns said the soldiers shown in the video are those being held by the Nusra Front. She identified the soldier who speaks as Captain Savenaca Rabuka.

At the beginning of the video, the men speaking in Arabic say that God had helped the Nusra Front soldiers and other fighters "liberate" the Quneitra border crossing which marks the area between Syrian-controlled territory and the Israeli part of the Golan Heights.

The video surfaced a day after Fiji may have jumped the gun by announcing that the peacekeepers would soon be released.

At a yesterday morning news conference in Suva, Fiji's military chief said Fiji had been told by UN headquarters in New York that the Nusra Front had agreed to release the men later this week without any conditions or demands.

The South Pacific nation later tried to retract the comments, but by then they had been reported around the world. It is unlikely Fiji would have been given the green light to release any specific information by the UN, which typically doesn't comment on sensitive captive situations until they are resolved.

The Nusra Front had earlier listed three demands for releasing the Fijian peacekeepers it took captive August 28. The group had demanded to be taken off the UN terrorist list, wanted humanitarian aid delivered to parts of the Syrian capital Damascus, and wanted compensation for three of its fighters it says were killed in a shootout with UN officers.