Thursday, March 7, 2013

Kidnapping of UN peacekeepers raises doubts about Syria's opposition

The kidnapping of 21 United Nations peacekeepers on the volatile Golan Heights has focused sharply on the fractured Syrian opposition, and raised serious questions about the future of the country if President Bashar Assad is ousted from power.

On Wednesday, a group calling itself the Martyrs of Yarmouk posted a video showing captured white UN vehicles containing a few blue-helmeted peacekeepers. Their message, in Arabic, — delivered by a spokesman identified as Abu Qaed al-Faleh — was as unrealistic as it was clear: “They will not be released until after Bashar Assad’s forces withdraw from the village of Jamlah bordering Israel.”

The kidnapping came as the Syrian opposition was enjoying its highest level of support from the U.S., as Britain said it would increase aid to opposition forces, and as the Arab League signalled that its members should arm the rebels.