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Fiji Time: 8:14 PM on Monday 22 September

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Army chief backs man

Siteri Sauvakacolo
Thursday, September 04, 2014

BRIGADIER General Mosese Tikoitoga says he fully supports the decision made by his commander on the ground in the case of the 45 Fijian soldiers being held captive by the al-Qaida-linked al-Nusra Front.

The RFMF Commander responded to a statement by the Fiji Peacekeeping Veterans Group that weak leadership, wrong decisions and lack of experience coupled with negligence on the ground probably led to the surrender and eventual capture of the 45 Fijians.

In a statement yesterday, group spokesman Taniela Senikuta said the incident at Location 27 on August 28 was not unusual as it occasionally happened during the Lebanon mission.

"In this case, I don't need people like Senikuta or any peacekeeper for that matter to make derogatory comments on the RFMF or any of its members in this kind of situation — it's not welcome," he said.

"It's not useful.

"It's different, you can't compare Lebanon and Syria, you can't compare two different scenarios — can't compare apples with bananas.

"You cannot compare past experiences they have had in Lebanon to the one in Syria — the situation is different.

"But we stood our ground and always retaliated by engaging armed elements in fire fights," Mr Senikuta said.

"That is the nature of peacekeeping which may have contributed to the high number of Fijian casualties (37) who served in Lebanon."

Brig-Gen Tikoitoga said Mr Senikuta was a very junior member of the RFMF during his serving years and he had no authority or had any leadership experience to talk on this issue and such comments was degrading to the hard work put in by the people in Syria.

Meanwhile, Brig-Gen Tikoitoga is expected to give another update on the issue today.


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