Photo: Hagai Aharon
Battles in Quneitra
Photo: Hagai Aharon
Photo: Hagai Aharon
Tensions on the border
Photo: Hagai Aharon

Philippines considering Golan pullout

UNDOF peacekeeping force stands to be substantially weakened should Filipino forces join Austria in withdrawing from area

UN peacekeeping forces were studying on Friday whether to pullout of the Golan Heights after Austria withdrew and two UN soldiers were injured in Syrian infighting, Al Arabiya reported.


The Philippines said on Friday it is reviewing a troop withdrawal after a Filipino soldier was wounded.


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The Department of Foreign Affairs recommended last month to President Benigno Aquino that the Philippines withdraw because of security concerns, but presidential spokeswoman Abigail Valte said no decision had yet been made, according to AFP.


The recommendation regarding the deployment of forces is being studied as of the present time," she said in a statement to AFP when asked on Friday about a decision.


The Foreign affairs spokesman, however, reiterated that his department's stands firm on the fact that 341 Filipino troops should be pulled out of the Golan Heights.


Philippine military chief General Emmanuel Bautista said Friday the decision to pull out was up to the government, but his soldiers were prepared for the dangers, AFP reported.


"We can manage any risk, we have gone to areas where we exposed our people to combat," he told AFP, citing the Filipino troops who fought with the UN force in Korea in the 1950s.


"You can't remove the risk. That is why we are there: to prevent conflict," he told reporters.  


Austria withdraws troops

President Bashar Assad's army regained control of the Quneitra crossing, the only border crossing between Israel and Syria, which was seized by rebel forces for the first time earlier Thursday. Heavy clashes were raging in the area between the opposition and Assad's forces.


In wake of ongoing battles, Austria said it would withdraw its 380 peacekeepers from the 1,000-strong UN monitoring force, significantly weakening the UN Disengagement Observer Force's (UNDOF) ability to act in the region.


The United Nations Security Council strongly condemned the fighting and demanded that the parties respect the presence of UN peacekeepers and allow them to act freely in order to guarantee their safety.



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פרסום ראשון: 06.07.13, 13:44
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