Filipino peacekeepers in Golan Heights coming home
Camille Diola (The Philippine Star) - September 19, 2014 - 4:14pm

MANILA, Philippines - Members of the 7th Philippine peacekeeping contingent in Golan Heights are coming home to the Philippines with the first batch of 244 personnel set to arrive Friday.

The peacekeepers completed their tour of duty after being attacked by al-Qaeda-linked Syrian rebels and making what was dubbed as the "greatest escape" in Golan late August.

While the remaining 85 peacekeepers will arrive on September 21, the first batch will immediately undergo standard medical examinations upon landing, Armed Forces of the Philippines spokesperson Lt. Col. Ramon Zagala said in a state news report.

The peacekeepers, who will be welcomed as heroes, are also invited to meet with President Aquino and visit the House of Representatives shortly after arrival.

The AFP lauded a group of peacekeepers at Position 68 who defied United Nations Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF) commander Lt. Gen. Iqbal Singha, who ordered them to surrender their firearms to the rebels. Instead, they escaped during a nighttime ceasefire fearing another attack would take place in the morning.

"The AFP’s leadership commends the peacekeepers for showing resolve and determination in fulfilling our country’s commitment to their mission of preserving the integrity of the line of separation between Syria and Israel," Zagala said.

Despite UNDOF's decision to repatriate the Filipino troops earlier than expected, Zagala said that their courage and commitment in the face of overwhelming threat make them deserve a heroes' welcome.

Filipino UNDOF chief of staff Col. Ezra Enriquez, meanwhile, returned to the Philippines on September 10 after he tendered his resignation over disagreements with Singha.

READ: Recalled UNDOF official returns home

ARMED FORCES OF THE PHILIPPINES ENRIQUEZ GOLAN HEIGHTS HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES IQBAL SINGHA PRESIDENT AQUINO RAMON ZAGALA SYRIA AND ISRAEL UNITED NATIONS DISENGAGEMENT OBSERVER FORCE ZAGALA
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