A team of U.N. observers was evacuated from a Syrian town after their convoy was hit by a roadside bomb Tuesday, following an attack by gunmen on a funeral procession that killed at least 20 people. No U.N. personnel were reported injured, though the team had to spend the night among rebel fighters until they could be safely escorted out of the area.
The six-person team was on a peacekeeping mission in the town of Khan Sheikhoun in northern Syria, a site of anti-government protests, when the attack occurred. Three of the team's four vehicles were damaged in a blast from an improvised explosive device as they tried to escape, stranding them there for a night under the protection of the Free Syrian Army.
The observers were later picked up by a U.N. patrol Wednesday around noon and taken to the city of Hama to the south.
Head of the U.N. mission in Syria, Maj. General Robert Mood said the observers had told us that they are happy and safe where they are while staying with the rebels, BBC reported.
Both the Syrian government and rebels claim the other side is responsible for the attack in Khan Sheikhoun.
Syrian rebels said they needed to protect the U.N. team from the military after they had witnessed the attack.
They are now with the Free Army which is protecting them. If they leave, the regime will terminate them because they have witnessed one of its crimes and it does not want them to tell the truth, rebel fighter Major Sami al-Kurdi told Reuters Tuesday.
Over 200 U.N. observers have been sent to Syria to enforce a tenuous cease-fire, which continues to be violated by both rebel fighters and the government of President Bashar al-Assad.
The Arab county has been torn by violence for over a year since the Assad regime's violent crackdown on initially peaceful protests that began in January 2011.
The U.N. estimates that over 9,000 people have died in the conflict.