herald

Thursday 20 September 2018

Irish troops return to duty after Syria attack

IRISH soldiers who were attacked in Syria while on patrol are all continuing with their duties today.

A total of 36 Irish peacekeepers came under sustained fire while carrying out a routine operation 20km north of their base in Camp Faouar from what was described as "anti-government armed elements".

A spokesperson for the Defence Forces this morning told the Herald that the patrol suffered an "unknown blast" to a tyre of one of their vehicles during the incident.

GUNFIRE

The cause of the attack has not yet been established and investigations are continuing as to whether it was gunfire or a mine.

Irish soldiers returned fire using a heavy machine-gun and then withdrew from the engagement.

During the firefight, one trooper received soft-tissue injuries – not as a direct result of the gunfire but as he took cover in the vehicle. His injuries were not serious and after X-ray and treatment, he returned to duty today along with the rest of his colleagues.

One element of the investigation is to establish if the wheel was damaged by an improvised explosive device, which raises the prospect the incident was part of a carefully planned ambush.

ARTILLERY

The troops are part of a deployment of 119 members of the Defence Forces in the service with the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force in Syria.

During the incident, the Irish troops were able to return fire remotely using a heavy machine gun.

The incident was the second this month.

On November 5 more than a dozen artillery rounds were fired on the Irish convoy when they got caught up in a "firefight" between government and anti-government forces. No one was injured in that attack.

news@herald.ie

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