UN soldiers relocate in Golan Heights

Soldiers monitoring Syrian side of Israeli-occupied border relocate after recent clashes with Syrian rebels.

Forty-five members of UN's peacekeeping mission were kidnapped last month and released last week [EPA]

UN peacekeepers in the Golan Heights have been “temporarily relocated” from four positions and one camp on the Syrian side of the Syrian-Israeli border, a UN source has confirmed, after recent clashes with al-Qaeda-linked fighters.

“Staff in UN positions 10, 16, 31 and 37, as well as Camp Faouar on the (Syrian) side are being relocated,” Reuters news agency reported citing a diplomatic source on Monday.

A formal announcement is expected from the UN later on Monday.

Last month, 45 members of the UNDOF mission in the Golan Heights were kidnapped by fighters from the al-Qaeda linked Nusra Front, after the rebels overran a crossing point. They were freed last Thursday.

A group of 70 Philippine troops were rescued following an attack on their post on the Syrian side of the border during the same period.

Syria’s three-year civil war reached the frontier with Israeli-controlled territory last month when rebel fighters overran a crossing point in the line that has separated Israelis from Syrians in the Golan Heights since a 1973 war.

Syria and Israel technically remain at war. Syrian troops are not allowed in an “area of separation: under a 1973 ceasefire formalised in 1974.

The UN force monitors the area of separation, a narrow strip of land running about 70km from Mount Hermon on the Lebanese border to the Yarmouk River frontier with Jordan.

It comprises 1,223 soldiers from Fiji, India, Ireland, Nepal, Netherlands and the Philippines.

Source: Al Jazeera, Reuters