Armed fighters linked to the Syrian opposition detained 21 U.N. peacekeepers Wednesday in the increasingly volatile zone separating Israeli and Syrian troops on the Golan Heights, a new escalation in the spillover of Syria’s civil war.
The U.N. Security Council demanded their immediate and unconditional release.
The capture comes a week after the announcement that a member of the peacekeeping force is missing. The force, known as UNDOF, was established in 1974 after the 1973 Yom Kippur war to monitor the disengagement of Israeli and Syrian forces and maintain a cease-fire.
Israeli officials have grown increasingly jittery as the Syrian war moves closer to Israel. There have been several instances in which stray fire has landed in the Israeli-controlled Golan Heights, and Israel is concerned that Syrian weapons could fall into the hands of hostile groups and be used against Israel. Israel captured the Golan Heights from Syria in 1967, and Syria wants the land returned in exchange for peace.