News National Bishop offers help for troops

Bishop offers help for troops

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Australia has offered its intelligence resources to help the United Nations track down 44 peacekeepers kidnapped by al-Qaeda linked terrorists in Syria.

It’s believed the 44 Fijian peacekeepers are being held by the terrorist group Jabhat al-Nusra, who overran a Golan Heights crossing last week and forced the UN troops to surrender.

They’ve been missing since Wednesday and their whereabouts is unknown.

The incident has deeply troubled ministers attending the UN Small Island Developing States conference in Samoa, including Foreign Minister Julie Bishop.

Ms Bishop discussed the situation with UN Secretary General Ban ki-Moon at the summit, and has offered Australia’s support to rescue the missing peacekeepers.

“I’ve assured them that Australia is providing whatever support we can, including our intelligence resources, to assist the UN,” she told AAP from Samoa on Monday.

“We are keeping in very close contact with all of our partners and friends in the intelligence network … to make sure we can locate them and they are safe.”

Ms Bishop has already assured Fiji’s Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama and Foreign Minister Ratu Inoke Kubuabola that Australia would use its seat on the UN Security Council to monitor the situation.

It comes amid reports that a group of Filipino peacekeepers confined to their barracks in a different part of the disputed region had escaped.

The UN has been monitoring the Golan Heights since a ceasefire between Syria and Israel in 1974.