BEIRUT -- Negotiations were underway Thursday between the United Nations and rebel forces in an effort to secure the release of 21 U.N. peacekeepers being held in southern Syria near the Golan Heights, a Syrian opposition group said.
The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said it had received word from the rebel battalion responsible for the abduction that insurgents were negotiating with delegates from the U.N. and from the Arab League.
There was no official confirmation of talks from either organization.
The U.N. says a convoy carrying 21 troops from the Disengagement Observer Force was stopped Wednesday and the troops were detained. The peacekeeping force monitors a cease-fire line between Syrian and Israeli forces near the disputed Golan Heights.
The rebels are seeking assurance that Syrian forces will not bombard a nearby town, Jamla, once the peacekeepers are released, the observatory said. The rebels have also demanded that Syrian troops withdraw from the vicinity of Jamla, where heavy clashes were reported over the weekend.
The rebels accused the U.N. of collaborating with the government of Syrian President Bashar Assad. The U.N. says its force is neutral.