herald

Wednesday 15 August 2018

Freeze on fresh troops for UN mission

Ireland will "freeze" troop replacements in the Golan Heights until the United Nations decides how to adapt to "the new realities," warned Defence Minister Simon Coveney.

Irish peacekeeping helped rescue besieged Filipino UN comrades on the Golan Heights in Syria in the early hours of Saturday.

The Irish troops fired warning shots which forced al-Nusra gunmen to withdraw and end a seven-hour siege.

replaced

Ireland's 130 soldiers were due to be replaced by new Irish troops next month.

The minister said that Ireland is "not going to send any more troops to that mission" until the UN clarifies a number of issues.

"I have made it very clear, that if the UN wants Ireland to continue to support this mission... then we need a full review and we have to get assurances about how the mission will change to adapt to the new realities," the minister said.

But he played down the possibility of pulling the troops out without adequate replacements.

"Ireland is still committed to this mission, I want to stress that," he said.

Foreign Affairs Minister Charlie Flanagan said he will meet Mr Coveney to discuss the "very difficult situation".

Mr Flanagan said the safety and welfare of the Irish troops was most important.

aokeeffe@herald.ie

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