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4 U.N. peacekeepers seized by Syrian rebels

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By The Associated Press
Tuesday, May 7, 2013, 7:54 p.m.

BEIRUT — Rebels fighting to topple Syria's President Bashar Assad detained four U.N. peacekeepers on Tuesday in an area that separates Syria and Israel.

The abduction is the second such incident in the area in two months. The incident exposed the vulnerability of the U.N. peacekeeping mission during Syria's civil war, now in its third year. It sent a worrisome signal to Syria's neighbors — including Israel — about the ensuing lawlessness along their shared frontiers.

Rebels with the Yarmouk Martyrs Brigades are holding the peacekeepers, a spokesman for the group said. The Yarmouk Brigades were behind the abduction in March of 21 Filipino U.N. peacekeepers; they were released unharmed after four days of tough negotiations. The spokesman talked with the AP on condition of anonymity because he was outside of Syria serving as a mediator on peaceful matters concerning the group.

In New York, Kieran Dwyer, spokesman for the U.N. peacekeeping department, confirmed the abduction and said the four peacekeepers, all from the Philippines, were taken by an unidentified armed group near the town of Jamla in southern Syria.

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