PH sends new batch of 300 peacekeepers in Golan Heights | Global News

PH sends new batch of 300 peacekeepers in Golan Heights

/ 03:47 PM November 28, 2013

An Israeli army Armored Personnel Carrier (APC) maneuvers during a military exercise near the northern border with Syria on June 25, 2013 in the Israeli-annexed Golan Heights. INQUIRER file photo

MANILA, Philippines–The Philippine Army sent off on Thursday more than 300 of its personnel to the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force in Golan Heights.

A ceremony was held at the Army Grandstand at Fort Bonifacio, with Army chief Lieutenant General Noel Coballes as guest of honor.


This batch will replace the contingent in Golan Heights that has been serving for a year now, exceeding the usual six months of duty. The current batch of peacekeeping forces in Golan Heights was deployed November last year and was supposed to return home last May. However, their return home was delayed several times pending the government decision and the United Nations.


Twenty five of the peacekeepers currently deployed in Golan Heights were abducted in March and May this year. They were later released. In June, one was injured in a “wayward indirect fire” amid fighting between Syrian rebels and the government.

They are scheduled to arrive in the country early December.

The contingent sent off on Thursday consists of 336 Army personnel, wherein 15 are female. Out of the 336, 49 are officers and 287 are enlisted personnel; and out of the 15 females, four are officers.

The contingent will leave for Golan Heights in three batches: November 29 (first serial), November 30 (second serial), and December 7 (third serial).

The battalion which will be deployed to Syria underwent the battalion of excellence program, Coballes said.

“This was created to cater all the needs to be an outstanding unit,” he said.


He added that all regular battalions undergo the excellence program. It just happened that the 80th Infantry Battalion is the one trained for this year.

Coballes said he advised the peacekeepers to abide by the instructions of the UN.

“In these kinds of UN deployments there is minimal use of force. We only use force on self defense,” he said.

In his speech, Coballes assured they received a guarantee from the United Nations that measures will be put in place for the personal safety and well-being of the deployed personnel during their tour of duty.

The Philippines started sending troops to Golan Heights in Syria in November 2009. Foreign peacekeepers have assisted the United Nations in its mission to bring about international peace for the Syrian and Israeli governments.


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TAGS: Golan Heights, peacekeeping force, Syrian rebels, United Nations Disengagement Observer Force

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