herald

Saturday 16 December 2017

Irish troops 'were not rescued by Israelis'

Defence Minister Simon Coveney reviews the personnel of the 46th Infantry Group at Costume Barracks, Athlone. Photo: James Flynn/APX.
Defence Minister Simon Coveney reviews the personnel of the 46th Infantry Group at Costume Barracks, Athlone. Photo: James Flynn/APX.

Defence Minister Simon Coveney says he is not going to send Irish troops into a civil war by deploying more troops to the Golan Heights in Syria.

Mr Coveney also denied Irish UN peacekeepers had to be rescued by members of the Israeli Defence Forces.

"There was no incident where Israeli troops had to go and rescue Irish troops," he said.

However, the minister did say the Irish troops were involved in rescuing Filipino troops who were surrounded by rebel forces. He said there were shots fired in the incident, when Irish troops were asked to evacuate the Filipinos.

PROFESSIONAL

"They did that in a very professional way. They took some fire and returned some fire and they successfully helped their colleagues to get out of a very difficult situation," he said.

"Another UN post was surrounded, which had a different outcome, but it was also a solution that resulted in protection of the lives of peacekeepers. However, there was no incident in which Israeli troops had to rescue Irish troops," he added.

The UN is currently reviewing the mission on the border between Israel and Syria after troops from Fiji were captured by militants and later released.

The Defence Forces will rotate the 133 Irish troops on duty in the coming weeks. However, no decision on continued participation has been made.

Mr Coveney said the UN must continue to monitor and evaluate the safety of the mission to ensure the safety of peacekeepers and observers.

hnews@herald.ie

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