Philippine withdraws peacekeepers from Golan Heights

 The Philippine government has withdrawn Filipino peacekeepers from the Golan Heights due to the deteriorating security situation in the area, a military official said Friday.

IANS| Updated: Sep 19, 2014, 11:34 AM IST

Manila: The Philippine government has withdrawn Filipino peacekeepers from the Golan Heights due to the deteriorating security situation in the area, a military official said Friday.

Spokesman of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), Ramon Zagala, said the first batch of the seventh AFP contingent composed of over 300 Filipino soldiers will arrive Friday evening, Xinhua reported.

Due to the volatile operational environment in the Golan Heights, the UN Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF) command has decided to move all its peacekeepers from the Syrian side to the Israeli side of the area, Zagala said.

He said all positions and observation points in the Syrian side, along with UNDOF headquarters in Camp Fauoar, have been vacated.

"Because of this repositioning of all peacekeepers to the Israeli side of Golan Heights and its attendant logistical constraints on UNDOF, it was deemed practical that Philippine contingent be repatriated earlier than expected," Zagala said.

The Philippine military announced earlier that it would no longer send Filipino contingents to Golan Heights after the current group ends its tour of duty in October.

Last month, Syrian rebels surrounded the encampment of Filipino peacekeepers as they attempted to seize the soldiers.

The Filipino soldiers managed to escape after hours of fighting.