FILIPINO peacekeepers who were surrounded and fired on by Syrian rebels in the Golan Heights have made a daring escape under cover of darkness.

The escape by the 40 peacekeepers was announced by the Philippine military but 44 Fijian soldiers remain in the hands of the insurgents.

After coming under rebel attack, the first group of 35 Filipino peacekeepers was successfully escorted out of the UN encampment in Breiqa by Irish and Filipino forces on board armoured vehicles.

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Another group of 40 Filipino troops had remained trapped at another encampment by more than 100 gunmen who rammed the camp's gates with their trucks and fired mortar rounds after the Filipinos refused to surrender and returned fire in self-defence.

Syrian government forces fired artillery to prevent the Filipino peacekeepers from being overwhelmed.