Dozens of United Nations peacekeepers that had been held by rebel forces in Syria were released on Thursday, ending a two-week saga.
#BREAKING UN confirms 45 kidnapped Fijian peacekeepers have been released— Agence France-Presse (@AFP) September 11, 2014
As we noted last month, the peacekeepers had been captured near the Syrian-Israeli border just one day after Syrian rebels from the al-Nusra Front had wrestled control of a border crossing in the Golan Heights from governments forces loyal to the Assad regime.
Ironically, al-Nusra had asked that the group's name be removed from the international list of terrorist groups as one of the conditions for the release of the peacekeepers. Reports have yet to indicate whether the group was given anything in return for the release of the peacekeepers, however on Wednesday, Fiji had to walk back a report saying its peacekeepers would soon be released.
According to Haaretz, the peacekeepers appeared in a video in which one of the them assured the world that they were safe.
By the way, we are all safe and alive, and we thank Jabhat al-Nusra for keeping us safe and keeping us alive. I'd like to assure you that we have not been harmed in any way," one hostage, who was not identified, said, using the Nusra Front's full name.
The release of the video was said to be one of the conditions for the release of the peacekeepers.