Quantcast
Latest Stories

Austrian UN troops begin pullout from Golan


Loading the player...

Austrian troops in the UN monitoring force on the Golan Heights begin withdrawing on Wednesday, days after Vienna decided to quit the mission over security concerns. AFP


QUNEITRA CROSSING—A first group of 67 Austrian troops in the UN force monitoring the Golan ceasefire line between Syria and Israel withdrew Wednesday, days after Vienna decided to quit the mission over security concerns.

Uniformed soldiers in jeeps and accompanied by armored vehicles entered the Israeli-occupied zone through the Quneitra crossing, the only passage between the two countries.

“It had been scheduled in advance that we would perform a rotation, and it had been scheduled for today,” Austrian officer Erwin Klem told an AFP correspondent as he and his men crossed.

The troops, the first wave of the 378-strong Austrian contingent which is due to be pulled out in stages, then transferred to a fleet of white UN buses for the drive to Ben Gurion airport, near Tel Aviv.

They arrived in the evening at Schwechat airport, near Vienna, where they were greeted by Austrian Chancellor Werner Faymann and Defense Minister Gerald Klug.

Austria announced on June 6, after fighting at Quneitra between Syrian government forces and rebels, that it would withdraw its peacekeepers because of deteriorating security.

Klug said the pullout would take two to four weeks.

Austria has been a cornerstone of UNDOF, the UN force monitoring a ceasefire between Syria and Israel, since the force was set up in 1974.

UNDOF’s 900 members are armed only with handguns for self-defense. They come from Austria, the Philippines and India, following the withdrawal of contingents from Canada, Japan and Croatia.

UN leader Ban Ki-moon on Wednesday called for better protection for the peacekeepers against the growing threat from the conflict in Syria but said it was “essential” that the mission remain.

Austrian UNO soldiers arrive at Vienna International Airport in Schwechat, Austria on Wednesday, June 12, 2013. Austria announced it is withdrawing 377 UN peacekeepers from the Golan Heights after Syrian rebels briefly overran a crossing point near the border with Israel on Thursday, a development that has deepened concerns the civil war is spreading to neighboring countries. AP/HANS PUNZ

Ban called on the UN Security Council to consider measures to beef up the force. “These include, as a matter of priority, enhancing the self-defense capabilities of UNDOF,” he said in a report.

“It is also necessary to consider further adjustments to the posture and operations of the mission.”

The UN Security Council is to meet with troop contributing countries on Thursday and plans to vote on a new mandate for UNDOF on June 26.

Ban said the United Nations is “urgently” seeking reinforcements and that the force should be bolstered to 1,250 troops.

Fiji is sending 171 troops this month, who would replace the Croatian and Japanese contingents, according to the UN report.

It has offered several hundred more soldiers, according to diplomats in New York.

Ban said Syria was guilty of a “grave violation” of the ceasefire accord and that Israel was guilty of a “serious violation,” warning that mounting tensions could “jeopardize” the agreement that formally separated the two sides following the 1973 Arab-Israeli war.

Moscow has offered to send Russian troops to bolster the depleted UNDOF.

But under the terms of the 1974 agreement which established the peacekeeping force, no troops from the five permanent members of the Security Council can participate.


Follow Us


Follow us on Facebook Follow on Twitter Follow on Twitter


Recent Stories:

Complete stories on our Digital Edition newsstand for tablets, netbooks and mobile phones; 14-issue free trial. About to step out? Get breaking alerts on your mobile.phone. Text ON INQ BREAKING to 4467, for Globe, Smart and Sun subscribers in the Philippines.

Tags: Austria , Conflict , Global Nation , Golan , Israel , peacekeepers , Politics , Syria , UN

  • bright

    Filipino troops should do the same. This is not our fight. Our purpose is done.

    Withdraw now.

    Syria is heading into chaos.



Copyright © 2014, .
To subscribe to the Philippine Daily Inquirer newspaper in the Philippines, call +63 2 896-6000 for Metro Manila and Metro Cebu or email your subscription request here.
Factual errors? Contact the Philippine Daily Inquirer's day desk. Believe this article violates journalistic ethics? Contact the Inquirer's Reader's Advocate. Or write The Readers' Advocate:
c/o Philippine Daily Inquirer Chino Roces Avenue corner Yague and Mascardo Streets, Makati City, Metro Manila, Philippines Or fax nos. +63 2 8974793 to 94
Advertisement
Advertisement

News

  • Korea ferry captain arrested, divers spot bodies
  • Enrile chief aide back in PH ‘to face charges’–report
  • Pakistan library named ‘bin Laden,’ as memory fades
  • US teacher fired over comment on black president
  • Magnitude-7.5 earthquake shakes Mexican capital
  • Sports

  • Duke’s Rodney Hood joining Jabari Parker in NBA draft
  • Phelps entered in 3 events at comeback meet
  • Boston prepares for huge wave of marathon visitors
  • Motivated LeBron James preps for postseason
  • Nadal ousted by Ferrer in Monte Carlo quarters
  • Lifestyle

  • Levine designs womenswear with help from fiancee
  • Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Nobel laureate, dies at 87
  • Ford Mustang turns 50 atop Empire State Building
  • Pro visual artists, lensmen to judge Pagcor’s photo contest
  • ‘Labahita a la bacalao’
  • Entertainment

  • Myx TV premieres Asian American ‘docu-series’
  • A nutty finale for ‘Scandal,’ TV’s craziest show
  • EXO postpones release of mini album ‘Overdose’
  • ‘X-men’ filmmaker slams ‘fabricated’ sex attack claims
  • Singer Chris Brown’s bodyguard on trial in DC
  • Business

  • US commerce secretary spells out economic facet of ‘pivot to Asia’
  • Italy sells luxury state cars on eBay
  • Asian shares mostly up in quiet trade
  • Dollar up in Asia on US jobs data, Ukraine deal
  • Barbie doll has a problem
  • Technology

  • Nasa’s moon-orbiting robot crashes down
  • Netizens pay respects to Gabriel Garcia Marquez
  • Nokia recalls 30,000 chargers for Lumia 2520 tablet
  • Facebook rolls out ‘nearby friends’ feature
  • Netizens seethe over Aquino’s ‘sacrifice’ message
  • Opinion

  • Editorial cartoon, April 17, 2014
  • A humbler Church
  • Deepest darkness
  • ‘Agnihotra’ for Earth’s health
  • It’s the Holy Week, time to think of others
  • Global Nation

  • OFW from UAE tests negative for MERS-Cov–health chief
  • Multicultural flock marks Good Friday in San Francisco
  • Las Vegas ‘Pinoy Pride’ fest hails Filipino heritage
  • Marking Jesus’ journey on Good Friday
  • Filipina accomplice arrested for fake bills in Malaysia
  • Marketplace