NATION

‘Withdrawal Not An Option’

More Fijian troops are been prepared go to Syria to take the place of the detained soldiers held by the al-Nusra group at an undisclosed location. Commander of the Republic
01 Sep 2014 07:08
‘Withdrawal Not An Option’

More Fijian troops are been prepared go to Syria to take the place of the detained soldiers held by the al-Nusra group at an undisclosed location.

Commander of the Republic of Fiji Military Forces, Brigadier-General Mosese Tikoitoga, yesterday said withdrawing of other troops who are based at various posts in Syria is not an option.

Mr Tikoitoga said they were keeping close tabs on the situation. However, due to exchange of fires between the Filipino troops and the rebels, further negotiations for the release of our soldiers have not been possible.

While the RFMF has been able to verify and identity the 44 soldiers, al Nusra has released a press release claiming they have 45 troops detained.

Al Nusra has also released two photos with their media release of Fijian soldiers stating that they are well and being looked after.

Mr Tikoitoga said they were still trying to verify if the 45 Fijian soldiers were detained by al-Nusra.

A photo of 45 photo identification cards has also been released by al Nusra supposedly of Fijian soldiers in their captive.

In the press release, Al Nusra stated that they “affirm that detainees in a safe place, and in a healthy condition, and provide them with what they need from food and treatment.”

During a media briefing yesterday, Brigadier-General Tikoitoga said Fiji had not made any decisions nor were they making any decision about withdrawing troops from Syria.

“What we are going through is a normal military tactical period that we go through and that should not determine our participation. We remain fully committed. In fact, yesterday (Saturday) we have started the selection of the next 44 who are going to replace the 44 who are detained. In the event that they have gone through some traumatic experience and needs to be counselled, we have 44 who are ready.”

Negotiations

“We still at the stage cannot confirm the exact location of our troops. We will be continuing negotiations at all levels. There is an official negotiations team by the UN negotiators and also the local negotiations by the Fijians on the grounds with their local contacts in the different areas they work in,” he said.

“We have been continually assured by all contacts that our men are well, they have been looked after and have not been harmed by anyone in any form or shape. For that, we can be content that they are well and that has been confirmed by several sources.

However, we are still very concerned that we cannot confirm at this stage their exact location, whether they are still in Syria or have been moved to neighbouring countries.”

Feedback: jyotip@fijisun.com.fj




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