30 Aug 2014

Whereabouts of captured Fiji troops remains unknown

7:17 pm on 30 August 2014

Fiji's military commander says he and the United Nations still have no idea where 44 of his soldiers captured by Syrian rebels are being held

A crisis centre has been set up in Fiji for the families of the UN peacekeepers captured in the Golan Heights, as negotiations continue.

Brigadier General Mosese Tikoitoga says the soldiers were detained near Quneitra during fighting between Syrian rebels and government forces on Thursday.

He says UN negotiators have talked with the captors, the al-Nusra front, and the soldiers are believed to be safe and well.

"We can't confirm the location of our troops, where they are at the moment. We know that the al-Nusra group is responsible for holding them and they are the group that is now negotiating with the UN. We know that the UN is now taking the lead and sending professional negotiators into Syria."

Australia's foreign minster has offered her country's support and intelligence resources to Fiji.

The Golan Heights is a demilitarised zone between Syria and Israel monitored by UN peacekeepers.

Mr Tikoitoga says withdrawing Fijian troops from the Golan Heights is out of the question, as Fiji has an international responsibility it has committed to.