Syria shelling stops UN hostage handover...

A UN convoy attempting to pick up 21 Filipino peacekeepers that their Syrian rebel captors had agreed to free has been forced back by a barrage of army shelling.
In New York, UN peacekeeping chief Herve Ladsous said the village where the soldiers were being held was coming under intense shelling.
That was denied by Syrian UN ambassador Bashar Jaafari, who said everything was being done to get them out safely.
Rami Abdel Rahman, head of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, said a UN convoy entered the Syrian village of Jamla on Friday to collect the peacekeepers and the army shelled the area, a watchdog told AFP.
"When the UN vehicles entered into Jamla, the Syrian army shelled a nearby village. The UN cars then withdraw from Jamla," said Abdel Rahman, who earlier claimed the rebels were willing to hand over their captives.
Ladsous said Jamla was under intense bombardment from army forces, and expressed hope that a possible ceasefire would lead to the freeing of the peacekeepers, who have been held by rebels since Wednesday.
"That village is subject to intense shelling by the Syrian armed forces," he said. "There is perhaps a hope, but it is not done yet... that a ceasefire of a few hours can intervene, which would allow for our people to be released."
For his part, Jaafari said: "Syrian forces are not targeting the village. They are doing everything in order to bring back safely the peacekeepers and get the armed terrorist groups out of there."
The Filipinos, members of the UN Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF) monitoring the armistice between Syria and Israel that followed the 1973 Arab-Israeli war, were abducted on Wednesday just one-and-a-half kilometres to the Syrian side of the ceasefire line.
The refusal by the rebels to compromise had dampened hopes of a swift release and forced Manila to step up its negotiation efforts, Philippine foreign affairs spokesman Raul Hernandez said.
The rebels are demanding Syrian troops move 20km back from Jamla, an area at the southern end of the armistice zone in the Golan.
A total of 74 people were killed in the Syrian conflict on Friday, the Observatory said.
( Sky news )



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