The United Nations has withdrawn its peacekeepers from the ceasefire zone in the Golan Heights after four Philippine troops were abducted by Syrian rebels on Tuesday.

The Philippines, along with other countries which contribute troops to the UN Disengagement Observer Force, expressed renewed concern about the security in the Al Jamlah zone, located between war-stricken Syria and Israel.

The government in Manila called on the UN Security Council to “exert all influence” to obtain the release of the Filipino soldiers who were seized while patrolling the area.

The Philippines department of foreign affairs said the “apprehension and illegal detention of peacekeepers are gross violations of international law”.

“In light of the evolving security situation, peacekeepers from that position have been relocated,” UN spokesman Martin Nesirky told AFP.

The Yarmuk Martyrs Brigade rebel group says it is holding the peacekeepers “for their own safety” amid renewed fighting in the area. The group was also behind the abduction of 21 Filipino peacekeepers in March.