'Near miss' for Irish soldiers caught in firefight
DOZENS of Irish troops serving with a UN peacekeeping mission in Syria had a lucky escape after more than a dozen artillery rounds were fired on them, landing within 200 metres of their convoy.
The Defence Forces confirmed that 39 troops attached to the 2nd Brigade – mostly from Dublin's Cathal Brugha Barracks – and 24 other troops belonging to the UN Disengagement Observer Force in Syria, were on a routine armed-escort when they got caught up in a "firefight" between government and anti-government forces as their armed convoy drove through Durbol area shortly after 9am local time yesterday.
Three of the rounds landed within 200 metres of the convoy of 10 armoured vehicles, although no one was injured.
They continued on but "when it became obvious there were a lot of localised firefights between Syrian forces, a decision was made at 10.30am to return to base at Fauar", Defence Forces' Cmdt Denis Hanly told the Irish Independent.
But as they returned to base via a different route, they were fired on again, he said. None of the Irish or other UN troops were injured and their vehicles were not damaged when they returned to base, he added.
Although there have been similar skirmishes since the Irish troops were deployed in September, "this is the most serious incident so far", he said.