Military intervention by the Israeli army saved the lives of Irish United Nations troops last week, Ireland's Sunday Independent has established.
Talking to senior sources, the Independent reported that "Irish soldiers would have been killed or taken hostage by Islamist extremists if it wasn't for the military intervention of the Israeli army during last week's battle to save besieged UN soldiers."
Irish Foreign Affairs Minister Charlie Flanagan described the situation in wake of the abduction of UN peacekeepers on the Syrian side of the Golan Heights as a crisis that "remains extremely tense."
Flanagan made it clear he does not want "to see Irish troops or the UN contingent being drawn into a civil war," according to the Independent report. At the same time, he declared: "Support for the UN is a cornerstone of Irish foreign policy and any decision will be made in partnership with them."
Last week, Irish Defense Minister Simon Coveney threatened that Ireland may not replace its 130-person rapid response force in the Golan Heights until the UN reviews its mandate for its forces there.
The contingent is due to be replaced by new Irish troops at the end of the month.