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Qatar boasts of securing release of peacekeepers

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DAMASCUS, Syria – The Gulf Arab country of Qatar, which along with Saudi Arabia and Turkey is supplying arms and financing the Syrian opposition including the al-Qaida-affiliated al-Nusra, made an announcement that it had arranged the release of four United Nations peacekeepers who had been taken hostage by the Yarmouk Martyrs Brigade, according to a report in Joseph Farah’s G2 Bulletin.

The Yarmouk Martyrs Brigade, an offshoot of al-Nusra, had kidnapped the four Filipino U.N. peacekeepers from the demilitarized zone between Syria and the Israeli-held Golan Heights. The rebels claimed they were holding the soldiers for their own safety because of firefights they were having with the Syrian government.

The Philippines and other countries devote military personnel to patrol the area as a way to maintain peace between Israel and Syria in the Golan.

The al-Nusra rebels said that they had captured the four at a border checkpoint called Beit Ara in an area where the Jordanian and Israeli borders join with the Golan Heights.

This wasn’t the first time that the Yarmouk Martyrs Brigade had seized U.N. peacekeepers.

Last March, they also seized 21 Filipino U.N. observers while they patrolled in the general area where the latest four were taken.

Qatar, backed by a coalition of Western countries, including the United States, said that it had negotiated the release of the U.N. peacekeepers.

United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon even praised Qatar, known for its close ties to the Yarmouk Martyrs Brigade, for its efforts to rescue the U.N. peacekeepers.

The praise for Qatar came as a draft resolution Doha had proposed condemned the Syrian government. A vote was taken in the U.N. General Assembly, but fewer countries than in the past approved it.

One reason fewer countries voted for it this year is the widely held view that it ignored the crimes and atrocities committed by the armed jihadist groups in Syria and the flow of thousands of international terrorists backed by the West, the Gulf states and Turkey who provide weapons and money.

“The resolution ignores all the terrorists’ heinous crimes and denounces what it called the escalation of the attacks by the Syrian government,” the Russian delegate said.

According to one source, the vote on the resolution fell well short of the 130 favorable votes it has received in the past.

One reason, the source said, is that the number would have been below 100 countries if it hadn’t been for “last minute arm-twisting.” As it was, 15 countries didn’t vote at all, opting to “get coffee,” as one African permanent representative said before the vote.

In condemning Qatar’s resolution as biased and unbalanced, Syrian Ambassador to the U.N. Bashar al-Ja’afari said the increase in number of countries that didn’t vote in favor of the resolution or who abstained from voting indicated a growing understanding of the reality of foreign intervention taking place in Syria.

“We rely on the U.N. and its member states to support Syria and its people against the culture of extremism and terrorism, and to encourage the comprehensive national dialogue to peacefully resolve the Syrian crisis,” he said.

Al-Ja’afari pointed out that the French delegation had halted the issuance of a number of U.N. press releases to condemn the terrorist acts committed by al-Qaida-linked armed groups in Syria, such as al-Nusra. He said thousands of lives of Syrians were stopped, allowing a U.N. release condemning the attempted assassination of the Syrian Prime Minister Wael al-Halqi.

In late April, al-Halqi escaped an assassination when a car bomb exploded near his convoy in Damascus. The explosion killed five people, including two of al-Halqi’s bodyguards and one of the drivers in the convoy.

Just as the U.N. General Assembly was wrapping up the resolution condemning Syria, al-Ja’afari then unloaded with a stunning revelation.

The revelation was confirmed by Syrian officials in Damascus who said it revealed that Qatar allegedly had orchestrated the entire kidnapping of the U.N. peacekeepers.

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