Peacekeepers at Golan Heights: Syria welcomes Russia's offer


Syria welcomes Russia's offer to replace Austrian peacekeepers at Golan Heights


DAMASCUS, June 7 (Xinhua) -- Syria's Foreign Ministry hailed Friday the Russian offer to replace Austrian peacekeepers in the Golan Heights after Austria decided to pull out its troops due to the rising tension on the Syrian borders with the Israeli-occupied territory.

While lamenting Austria's decision to withdraw its 377 UN peacekeepers from the occupied Golan Heights due to the tension between rebels and government troops in the area, the ministry hailed Moscow's offer to replace the Austrian UN troops, pledging full cooperation in that regard.

On Thursday, the Syrian rebels briefly overran a border crossing near the Golan Heights, but the Syrian troops later clashed with them and recaptured the border point in al-Quneitra city.

Austrian Chancellor Werner Faymann and Foreign Minister Michael Spindelegger said the battles for controlling the border point at the Golan Heights pushed them to withdraw their troops. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said he regretted such a decision by Austria.

Russian President Vladimir Putin said Friday that his country was ready to replace the Austrian peacekeepers with Russian ones " if the regional powers show interest and if the UN secretary general asks us to do so."

"Given the complicated situation in the Golan Heights, we could replace the leaving Austrian contingent in this region on the border between Israeli troops and the Syrian army," he said.

A total of 1,000 UN peacekeepers have been observing a four- decade-old ceasefire between Syria and Israel at the Golan Heights captured by Israel in the 1967 Mideast war. But they have found themselves caught in the middle of violence between the Syrian troops and the rebels.

Over the past two months, a total of 25 Filipino peacekeepers had been kidnapped in two incidents by the rebels near the occupied Golan Heights.


Josephine Guerrero, spokesperson for the UN peacekeeping department, said that ‘while the offer was appreciated, the disengagement agreement and accompanying protocol do not allow the participation of troops from a permanent member of the UN Security Council’…

Latest News Syria: Russian peacekeepers to Golan Heights


Russia may send 300 peacekeepers to Golan Heights

Russia may dispatch around 300 peacekeepers to the Golan Heights to the zone of separation between Syria and Israel to replace the Austrian peacekeepers being withdrawn from there.

This was announced by Russia’s UN ambassador Vitaly Churkin, emerging from closed UN SC consultations on the peacekeeping mission of the UNDOF.

“A number of countries–UN Security Council members took note of our initiative, reiterating what we have already noted: that a concerted agreement of all interested sides is required”, - stressed Churkin.

According to him, UN legal advisers shall be looking into whether adoption of a special Security Council resolution is required for implementing Russia’s offer.

The fact is, the protocol of the disengagement agreement between Israel and Syria bars permanent members of the Security Council from the U.N. observer mission there.

Read more: http://english.ruvr.ru/news/2013_06_08/Russian-journalists-come-under-rebel-attack-in-Golan-Heights-0106/

Photo: Russian aid to Kenya


Latest News Syria: Syrian army - Golan Heights


Syrian Army recaptures key Golan Heights crossing

June 6, 2013

Syrian army troops have established control over a key crossing in the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights shortly after it fell into the hands of foreign-backed militants.

On Thursday, Syrian forces liberated the Quneitra Crossing - situated between Syria and the Golan Heights - after heavy clashes with anti-government gunmen. 

Earlier in the day, Israeli media reported that foreign-backed militants had seized the crossing. 

Meanwhile, Austria has announced that it will withdraw its peacekeepers from the UN monitoring force on the Golan Heights in wake of ongoing battles in the area. 

Austrians account for about 380 of the 1,000-strong United Nations Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF), and their departure will deal a serious blow to the mission. 

Israel captured the Golan Heights from Syria during the Six-Day War of 1967, when it also took control of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. 

It annexed the Golan Heights in 1981, although the move was never recognized by the international community and was a violation of international law. 

The Israeli regime has used various means to help the foreign-sponsored militants in Syria, including the provision of medical assistance. 

Also on Thursday, the Syrian troops recaptured the town of al-Daba’a. This came after the Army liberated the strategic town of Qusayr on Wednesday following three weeks of fighting with the militants. 

Syria has been gripped by a deadly unrest since March 2011, and many people, including large numbers of government forces, have been killed in the violence. 

Damascus says the chaos is being orchestrated from outside the country, and there are reports that a very large number of the militants are foreign nationals. 




Latest News Syria: Golan Heights


Forty years on, people displaced from the Golan remain in waiting...

The situation of tens of thousands of Syrian Arabs displaced from the Golan Heights forty years ago is still far from resolved. They fled their HOMEs in disputed circumstances during the Six Day War in 1967, when Israel seized the Golan, a strategic strip of land overlooking the Jordan Valley and the Sea of Galilee. Since then, Israel has prevented the displaced from returning to their HOMEs. In 1981, Israel formally annexed the area, but this annexation has not been recognised internationally. The Syrian government estimates that around 305,000 people remain displaced today, a figure which includes the descendants of those displaced in 1967. Forty years on, the Golan’s internally displaced population has largely integrated in their current places of residence across Syria. But while they do not face particular humanitarian risks, many continue to express a wish to return to the Golan. The issues of the restitution of their property and compensation for lost or destroyed property are also unresolved. A more immediate concern is that many displaced Syrians continue to be prevented from maintaining ties with their relatives living in the occupied Golan. Regular contact between Syrians living in Israeli-occupied Golan and their displaced family members is not possible, with the exception of specific cases facilitated by the International Committee of the Red Cross.


Latest News Syria: Occupied Golan

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Cabinet: Golan is Basic Part of Syria

June 4, 2013

Prime Minister Wael al-Halqi reiterated that Syria, as government and people, will not abandon any tiny of the Syrian national soil, including the occupied Golan, appreciating the struggle and courage of the citizens in it against the flagrant practices of the Israeli occupation.

"Nowadays, we remember a painful anniversary; the aggression of June 5th when the Israeli entity occupied parts of Arab territories, among them the Syrian Golan which is considered a basic part of Syria," Al-Halqi said during a weekly Cabinet meeting.

He called on the Ministers to offer the best services to the citizens and providing them with the basic needs of water, electricity, communications and health. The Premier referred to the procedures taken by the government to support the Syrian pound in addition to improving the citizens' livelihood.

For his part, Foreign and Expatriates Minister Walid al-Moallem briefed the Cabinet on the latest developments on the international arena and its repercussions on the internal situation.

He affirmed the Syrian people's confidence that the solution to the crisis in Syria is by implementing the political program.




'Syria, a military obstacle to Israel' 

As a reminder:

November 2, 2010

‘IDF intelligence chief: Israel’s next war will see heavy casualties’

In farewell meeting at the Knesset, Gen. Amos Yadlin says next conflict will hit Israel far harder than recent wars in Lebanon and Gaza – and hints for first the time at Israeli involvement in a 2007 strike on a nuclear plant in Syria…

In a final meeting at the Knesset, outgoing Military Intelligence chief Amos Yadlin warned on Tuesday that Israel’s next war would be fought on several fronts – causing far heavier damage and casualties than other recent conflicts. A new war would be far deadlier than Israel’s last two, relatively short, conficts in Lebanon in 2006 and Gaza in 2008-9. Syria, particularly, posed a greated military obstacle to Israel than at any time in the past three decades, Yadlin said, having amassed advanced Russian-built antiaircraft missiles that seriously limited the operational freedom of the Israel Air Force. Yadlin also hinted at Israel’s involvement in attacking a Syrian nuclear facility in September 2007. That strike has been widely attributed to Israel, but the government has never officially taken responsibility for the operation. The veteran soldier, who turns 60 next year, told the committee that during his position as MI chief he had contended with two enemy nuclear programs – apparently a reference to Iran and Syria. Yadlin also warned of a growing threat from the Iranian nuclear program, saying Iran now had enough highly enriched uranium to build a bomb.

Source: http://www.haaretz.com/news/diplomacy-defense/idf-intelligence-chief-israel-s-next-war-will-see-heavy-casualties-1.322484