Monday 22 January 2018

Coveney: Ireland will not send any more troops into Golan Heights until full UN review

Minister Simon Coveney (inset) spoke about the situation in Golan Heights
Minister Simon Coveney (inset) spoke about the situation in Golan Heights

Conor Humphries

Ireland may not replace its 130-person rapid response force in the Golan Heights, where 44 peacekeepers from Fiji are being held by militants, until the United Nations reviews its mandate for its forces there, Minister for Defence Simon Coveney said this evening.

Islamist fighters involved in Syria's three-year-old civil last week overran a crossing point in the line that has separated Israelis from Syrians in the Golan Heights since the 1973 Arab-Israeli War.

Ireland's contingent, which is the most heavily armed element of the 1,200 strong multinational U.N. mission, was due to be replaced by new Irish troops next month, but Ireland is to freeze the rotation, Mr Coveney said.

"I have made it very clear, that if the UN wants Ireland to continue to support this mission...then we need a full review and we have to get assurances about how the mission will change to adapt to the new realities," Coveney told RTE.

Until the issue is addressed, Ireland is "not going to send any more troops to that mission," he said.

He played down the possibility of pulling the troops out without adequate replacements. "Ireland is still committed to this mission, I want to stress that," he said.

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