UN extends mandate of observer force in Golan Heights
The UN Security Council extended Thursday the mandate of its military observer force in the Golan Heights for another six months to continue monitoring the tense situation between Syria and Israel, dpa reported.
The new mandate will keep the UN Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF) in the region until the end of the year.
The force is made up of 1,041 troops from Austria, the Philippines, India, Croatia, Japan and Canada and has been deployed since 1974 to monitor the ceasefire between Syria and Israel.
Diplomats used the renewal of UNDOF's mandate to denounce the Syrian government's harsh military repression of pro-democracy demonstrators, which they said has killed more than 1,500 people in the past three months.
US Deputy Ambassador Rosemany DiCarlo said her government believed the Syrian government "played a role" in two recent incidents when Palestinian protesters tried to breach the ceasefire line in the Golan Heights and were confronted by the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF).
The second of these incidents, on June 5, resulted in the death of 23 people.
British and German diplomats also denounced Syrian military repression of the demonstrators in Syria, urging Damascus to meet the demands of their people.
A UN report on the June 5 incident said the IDF used tear gas, smoke grenades and live fire to prevent the demonstrators from crossing the ceasefire line.
"Several anti-tank mines exploded due to a brush fire apparently started by tear gas or smoke grenade canisters near UNDOF facilities at Charlie Gate, resulting in casualties among protesters," the report stated.
The brush fire was put out by Syrian and Israeli fire squads, and UNDOF members, the report read.