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Fiji troops to join depleted Golan peacekeeping force

JTA

June 17, 2013 | 1:32 pm

A United Nations observation tower overlooking Syria is seen near the Kuneitra border crossing between Israel and Syria, on the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights on May 8. Photo by REUTERS/Baz Ratner

A United Nations observation tower overlooking Syria is seen near the Kuneitra border crossing between Israel and Syria, on the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights on May 8. Photo by REUTERS/Baz Ratner

Some 170 troops from Fiji will join the United Nations peacekeeping force on the Golan Heights in the wake of the withdrawal of Austrian troops.

The new peacekeepers will arrive in the region at the end of the month, the United Nations announced Monday.

Last week, the 380 Austrian troops left the region after fighting between government and rebel forces in Syria’s two-year civil war placed them in danger. Croatia withdrew from the peacekeeping force earlier in the year over similar fears.

With the Austrians’ withdrawal, the U.N. Disengagement Observer Force stationed on the Golan Heights is well short of the 1,000 troops it is supposed to have. The force now has 341 troops from the Philippines and 193 from India.

Last week, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called for bringing the force to 1,250 troops and enhancing its self-defense capabilities.

The peacekeepers have been stationed on the Golan since 1974 in the wake of a cease-fire agreement following the Yom Kippur War of the previous year.

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