The Times of London reported Tuesday that Syrian peace-keeping forces in Beirut appear ready to engineer the release of four Western hostages - three Americans and an Indian-born U.S. resident alien - who were kidnapped in January 1987.

In a brief report from Beirut, the newspaper said the four hostages are now believed to be held by the Syrian-backed Shiite Amal militia in the Bourj al Barajneh district south of Beirut, now under Syrian military control.The four are college professors and were abducted Jan. 24, 1987, from the campus of Beirut University College. A previously unknown group called Islamic Jihad for the Liberation of Palestine claimed reponsibility.

The Americans were identified as Robert Polhill, 52, an accountant and assistant professor of business studies, Alann Steen, 49, professor of communications, and Jesse Turner, 39, professor of mathematics. Also kidnapped was Mithileshwar Singh, an Indian-born U.S. resident alien in his 60s, chairman of business studies at the school.