Fiji Time: 3:21 PM on Tuesday 6 October

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Military not taking sides

Tevita Vuibau
Monday, September 01, 2014

THE RFMF says they favour neither rebel nor government forces in Syria.

This after international reports quoted an Islamic Militant commander saying Fijian peacekeepers were kidnapped because UNDOF is aiding Syrian government forces.

But RFMF Commander Brigadier General Mosese Tikoitoga dismissed these claims saying the only contact they had with anyone outside UNDOF came when they treated wounded civilians at the hospital in their area.

He explained that even then they could tell the difference between soldiers and non-combatants.

"In these cases, even people who are firing at you, they throw away their weapons and they walk to you in civilian clothes and you can't treat them as combatants, you must treat them as civilians," Brig-Gen Tikoitoga said.

"That's the reality on the ground unless you are in uniform then you are a soldier.

"There they treat you as civilians, you're not a combatant and that's the practical sense of what is happening in Syria.

Brig-Gen Tikoitoga also explained the UNDOF and Fijian peacekeepers maintained their neutrality between Israel and Syria."

"We maintain our neutrality, we have a very good relationship with the Syrians on a personal relationship with the people on the ground as we do in Lebanon, as we do in Iraq.

"We also have a very good relationship with the Israeli's as in all our peacekeeping missions but there is never a compromise of the operation, we don't help them conduct their operations, we work with them and understand personalities but we don't help them in their operations."

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