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Rebels holding Fijians troops make 3 demands

September 2, 2014 1:14 am

The Al Nusra Front has made three demands to the United Nations in order to secure the release of 45 Fijian troops captured last week.

This was confirmed by RFMF Commander Brigadier General Mosese Tikoitoga at a media briefing this morning.

“First they insist that the UN take them off the UN terrorist list – the Al Nusra group. They’ve asked or demanded from the UN to provide humanitarian assistance to the people of Ruta which is a town on the outskirts of Damascus and it’s a Al Nusra dominated area. And the third is they are now asking for the compensation of the three casualties with the UN confrontation in the last couple of days.”

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A professional negotiating team has now taken over from the UN Crisis Management team in Syria.

Brigadier General Mosese Tikoitoga says nothing has changed despite intense negotiations over the last 24 hours.

“I have been told by the UN headquarters that the negotiation team is now in Syria, a professional negotiating team from New York and they have now taken over the negotiations from the Crisis Management team made up of the Force Commander and his senior officers at UNDOF. So now the negotiation has moved up another level.”

He says the 45 Fijian troops who’ve now spent six days in captivity are all well – but the Al Nusra Front refuses to divulge where exactly the men are detained.

“Our troops are still in an undisclosed location. The rebels are not telling us where the troops are but they continue to reassure us that they have been well looked after. They have been fed well and have been kept safe. They also told us that they ensure they are taken out of battle areas.”

The Fijians were taken from position 27 in the Golan Heights where they were on peacekeeping duties as part of the UN Disengagement Observor Force.

The men surrendered after Al Nusra rebels demanded that they lay down their weapons.

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