Released U.N. Filipino Troops Reach Israel

YERUSHALAYIM (Reuters) -

U.N. peacekeepers held by rebels for three days in southern Syria and freed at the weekend crossed into Israel from neighboring Jordan on Monday, a military spokeswoman said.

The spokeswoman would not comment, however, on a report by an Israeli newspaper that Israeli troops had later escorted the 21 Filipino peacekeepers back to their base along the Syrian frontier with the Golan Heights.

The peacekeepers, part of the U.N. Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF) that has monitored the ceasefire line between Israel and Syria since 1974, were released over the weekend by rebels fighting to topple Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and taken to Jordan.

“I can confirm that they came into Israel today, from Jordan,” the Israeli spokeswoman said of the freed peacekeepers.

It was not clear why the peacekeepers would end up in Israel, but, logistically, it would be safe for them to return to their main command post via Israel.