A New Zealand Army officer serving as a United Nations military observer was detained and released by armed men in Syria on Monday, the New Zealand Defence Force has revealed.

The officer was conducting a regular patrol north of the border between Syria and Jordan to verify the on-going ceasefire between Israel and Syria, when his vehicle was stopped by unidentified armed men, the Defence Force said in a statement.

He was detained with his Austrian colleague for about three hours before being released.

The officer was unharmed and has since returned to work.


The officer is part of the eight-strong New Zealand Defence Force contingent supporting the UN Truce Supervisory Organisation in the Middle East.

UNTSO is made up of unarmed military observers whose role is to monitor ceasefires, supervise armistice agreements, prevent isolated incidents from escalating and assist other UN peacekeeping operations in the region.

The NZ Defence Force personnel are based in the Golan Heights, Israel and Southern Lebanon.

- nzherald.co.nz