Rogue Syria Rebels Kidnap Golan U.N. Peacekeepers

Security Council Denounces Capture of Troops Near Israel Border

By Reuters

Published March 06, 2013.

(page 2 of 2)

At least five people could be seen sitting in the vehicles wearing U.N. light blue helmets and bulletproof vests.

“If no withdrawal is made within 24 hours we will treat them as prisoners,” he said, accusing them of collaborating with Assad’s forces to push the rebels out of Jamla.

Nearly two years since the uprising started, rebels are distrustful of a United Nations that they say has failed to support their cause.

MILITARY AID

Earlier on Wednesday the United Nations said the number of refugees who have fled Syria had reached 1 million, part of an accelerating exodus from a conflict which is approaching its second anniversary with no prospect of an end to the bloodshed.

British Foreign Secretary William Hague, pledging support for Assad’s opponents, said the civil war had reached catastrophic proportions and that international efforts to stem the violence had been an abject failure.

Senior U.S. and Russian diplomats will discuss the conflict at a meeting in London on Thursday, Russia said, the latest in a series of meetings aimed at seeking an end to the bloodshed.

But Hague said the chances of getting an immediate political solution to the crisis were slim and that diplomacy was taking too long. However, he played down the prospect of direct Western military intervention.

“If a political solution to the crisis in Syria is not found and the conflict continues, we and the rest of the European Union will have to be ready to move further, and we should not rule out any option for saving lives,” he said.

A Syrian rebel leader sought to persuade European governments to lift an arms embargo for the rebels, saying any weapons provided would be accounted for and possibly returned.

Brigadier Selim Idris said in Brussels that Syrian rebels recorded the arms they received.

“The weapons are registered on lists with numbers on each weapon. We distribute those weapons. And we know precisely who has received them,” he told a news conference.

ONE MILLION REFUGEES

At a registration centre for Syrians in the northern Lebanese city of Tripoli, a 19-year-old mother of two registered on Wednesday as the millionth refugee to flee her country.

“The situation is very bad for us. We can’t find work,” said the teenage mother, wearing a green headscarf and holding her daughter as she spoke to reporters.

“I live with 20 people in one room. We can’t find any other house as it is too expensive. We want to return to Syria. We wish for the crisis to be resolved.”

Syrians started trickling out of the country 23 months ago when Assad’s forces shot at pro-democracy protests inspired by Arab revolts elsewhere.

The uprising has since turned into an increasingly sectarian struggle between armed rebels and government soldiers and militias. An estimated 70,000 people have been killed.

Around half the refugees are children, most of them aged under 11, and the numbers leaving are mounting every week, the United Nations refugee agency said in statement.

“With a million people in flight, millions more displaced internally, and thousands of people continuing to cross the border every day, Syria is spiralling towards full-scale disaster,” U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres said in a statement.



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