Wednesday 29 March 2017

Standed troops on their way home

About 160 peacekeeping troops stranded in Kosovo got the green light to return home today.

The soldiers, mainly from the Eastern Brigade, were ordered to stay at the Irish unit at Camp Clarke, near the capital Pristina, because of the no-fly zone around Ireland.

The Defence Forces said that as restrictions lifted, planes to bring the troops home had left the Czech Republic for the Balkans.

The peacekeepers, drawn mostly from battalions based in Dublin and Dundalk, were due to pull out yesterday as their six-month tour of duty came to an end, along with Ireland's major role in the mission.

A Defence Forces spokesman said the troops were due back after 3pm.

A spokesman said: "The next major decision point for the aviation authorities is at 1pm, which could lead to the flight being diverted to Cork or Shannon airports, depending on the prevailing winds."

The troops were one of the last major Defence Forces deployments overseas, with the peace-enforcement mission in Chad expected to return in the summer.

Another 40 logistics staff working in Camp Clarke, in Lipljan, about 15km south of Pristina, will return later after dismantling the camp, while 12 senior soldiers will remain at the peacekeeping mission KFOR headquarters in Kosovo.

Returning troops have been granted four weeks' leave from duty, which will begin when they touch down.

Press Association

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