Quantcast

Jewish Journal

Croatia to quit UN Golan force after reports of arms shipments

Reuters

February 28, 2013 | 8:55 am

Labourers reinforce the fence near Israel's border with Syria in the Golan Heights on Feb. 14. Photo by REUTERS/Baz Ratner

Labourers reinforce the fence near Israel's border with Syria in the Golan Heights on Feb. 14. Photo by REUTERS/Baz Ratner

Croatia will pull its soldiers out of the U.N. peace force in the Golan Heights as a precautionary step, the government said on Thursday, after media reports that Croatian arms were being sent to Syrian rebels fighting President Bashar al-Assad.

The Croatian government denied the reports and said it had never sold or donated weapons to the rebels, but Prime Minister Zoran Milanovic said the damage was already done.

"We can deny over and over again, but everyone has already read these reports and our soldiers are no longer safe. We want them to return home safe and sound," he told a cabinet meeting. He did not elaborate further on Croatia's reasons for the move.

Croatia, which joined NATO in 2008, has 98 soldiers in the U.N. force that has helped maintain calm in a demilitarized zone along Syria's Golan frontier with Israel since a ceasefire that ended the Yom Kippur War.

The United Nations has warned that the almost two-year-old Syrian civil war, which has killed nearly 70,000 people, could spill over into the sensitive Golan region.

Earlier this week the New York Times and Croatian media said Syrian rebels had been given Croatian armor-piercing grenades, rocket launchers and recoilless cannons, and that these arms had been flown by Jordanian cargo planes from Zagreb airport.

President Ivo Josipovic, the supreme commander of Croatia's armed forces, said he would order the soldiers to be withdrawn.

"We shall respect Croatia's international obligations and safety requirements of the soldiers from our partner countries," a statement by Josipovic's office said on Thursday.

The United Nations reported on Tuesday that a member of the peace force in the Golan's demilitarized zone had gone missing.

Reporting by Zoran Radosavljevic; Editing by Mark Heinrich

{--Tracker Pixel for Entry--}

COMMENTS

We welcome your feedback.

Privacy Policy
Your information will not be shared or sold without your consent. Get all the details.

Terms of Service
JewishJournal.com has rules for its commenting community.Get all the details.

Publication
JewishJournal.com reserves the right to use your comment in our weekly print publication.

ADVERTISEMENT
PUT YOUR AD HERE