12 Sep 2014

Fiji's PM welcomes release of soldiers

8:01 am on 12 September 2014

Fiji's prime minister has welcomed the release of 45 Fijian UN peacekeepers detained by an al-Qaeda-affiliated rebel group in the Syrian Golan Heights.

Rear Admiral Frank Bainimarama says the soldiers are now safely back in a United Nations compound, they are all healthy, in high spirits and should soon be in contact with their families and loved ones in Fiji.

The Fijians were driven to a crossing and into Israeli-held territory where they were freed.

Members of the al-Nusra Front captured the Fijians last month during clashes between rebels and Syrian government forces in the demilitarised zone.

Mr Bainimarama says the men will need to be debriefed and obviously deserve a period of rest before they return to their duties.

In a statement he says he knows that they are all keen to continue their mission.

He also thanked those who had a hand in securing their safe release, including the skilled group of UN negotiators and our team in New York and Suva, who worked constantly behind the scenes to produce this outcome.

The 45 Fiji soldiers captured by al-Nusra in Golan Heights.

The 45 Fiji soldiers captured by al-Nusra in Golan Heights. Photo: Supplied