Ireland Demands Review of UN Golan Heights Mandate

Island nation may not replace forces, the largest contingent of the UN's multinational mission, until UN does proper review, says defense minister.

Conor Humphries
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Irish members of the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force sitting on their armored vehicles in the Golan Heights as they wait to cross into Syrian-controlled territory, Aug. 28, 2014.
Irish members of the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force sitting on their armored vehicles in the Golan Heights as they wait to cross into Syrian-controlled territory, Aug. 28, 2014.Credit: AFP
Conor Humphries

(Reuters) - 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, the defense minister said on Monday.

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, Defense Minister Simon 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 state broadcaster 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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