Fijian U.N. peacekeepers released by al-Qaeda-linked group Nusra Front in Syria on Thursday, gesture from inside a vehicle as they arrive in Israeli-held territory on the Golan heights September 11, 2014. REUTERS/Baz Ratner
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Al-Qaeda's Syrian affiliate the Nusra Front Thursday released all 45 Fijian peacekeepers they had held captive for two weeks, the United Nations said, bringing an end to a crisis that ensnared the U.N. monitoring force in the chaos of Syria's civil war.The militants captured the Fijian troops late last month in the Syrian-controlled side of the Golan Heights, where a 1,200-strong U.N. force patrols the disputed buffer zone between Syria and Israel. The Fijians were taken hostage the same day that nearly 80 Filipino peacekeepers were trapped by Syrian opposition fighters.The same day the Fijians were taken captive, two groups of Filipino peacekeepers were trapped at separate U.N. encampments, surrounded by rebel fighters who demanded they surrender.The mission now has troops from six countries: Fiji, India, Ireland, Nepal, Netherlands and the Philippines. Several countries have withdrawn their peacekeepers as fighting between militants and Syrian troops escalated.
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