The jihadist group Jabhat al-Nusra, which is linked to al-Qaeda, released 45 Fijian United Nations peacekeepers in Syria to Israeli military in Golan Heights. The terrorists captured the group on the Syrian and Israeli border.
On Wednesday, al-Nusra released a video on their YouTube account of the peacekeepers in good condition. A source told Reuters the militants would only release the group if the video was published.
“We are all safe and alive, and we thank Jabhat al-Nusra for keeping us safe and keeping us alive. I’d like to assure you that we have not been harmed in any way,” said one hostage. “We understand that with the limited resources that they have, they have provided the best for us and we truly appreciate it and we thank them. We are thankful that Jabhat al-Nusra has kept its word and that we will be going home.”
In the video, the two Arabic men demand a prisoner exchange, humanitarian aid for parts of Syria, and for the UN to remove al-Nusra from its terrorist list. Fiji asked Qatar, who allegedly holds influence with the terrorist group, for help.
“The Government of the Republic of Fiji requested the State of Qatar for mediation in the release of Fijian soldiers serving with peacekeeping forces detained in Syria,” said Qatar’s foreign ministry.
Fiji’s army said the group dropped all ransom demands on Wednesday. The UN told Reuters on Thursday that Fiji never asked the UN for ransom money, and no money exchanged hands.