Philippine Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin reported Saturday that Syrian rebel Islamists holding 43 Fijian UN observers hostage on the Golan had attacked 40 Filipino troops in one UN encampment Saturday. The 35 troops in another base were “extricated,” he said, without explaining how. Philippine military spokesman Lt. Col. Ramon Zagala told reporters, "There is an ongoing firefight, but all Filipinos are safe."
DEBKAfile: The fighting is taking place on the Syrian side of the Quneitra Golan crossing to Israel is being fought over by Syrian troops and rebels, including Al Qaeda’s Syrian Nusra Front Islamists, who abducted the Fijian UN observers last week. The UN position held by Filipino observers was attacked after they rejected an Al Qaeda ultimatum to surrender their weapons. Arab media report that UN peacekeepers have escaped and entered Israel. It was not immediately clear of which nationality they are.