Ireland Sending Troops to Syria

Irish unit participating in UNIFIL mission in Lebanon, December 6, 2012

From Stephen Collins, Irish Times:  More than 100 Irish troops are to be be sent to war-torn Syria as part of a United Nations observer force later this summer.

The Government yesterday approved the deployment of a 114-strong mechanised infantry unit to the Golan Heights at the request of the UN.

A Government spokesman said the Irish troops would not be acting as peacekeepers or peace enforcers but in an observer capacity.

“They will be in a position to respond quickly to situations as they develop,” he added. The addition of Irish troops will bring the UN force up to a strength of 1,250.

Last month, the Austrian government announced it was withdrawing its 380-strong force from the Golan Heights because the area had become too dangerous. . . .

Minister for Defence Alan Shatter announced he had secured the approval of the Cabinet for the deployment of the contingent for service with the UN Disengagement Observer Force in Syria which was originally established in 1974 following the war between Israel and Syria to monitor the situation at the Golan Heights. . . .

The Defence Forces have previous experience in a similar role in Liberia and Lebanon. Three Army personnel were deployed to the Golan Heights last month and a fourth will be sent shortly.The escalation of the civil war in Syria has affected the observer force’s area of operations significantly in recent months. Mr Shatter said if approved by the Dáil the role of the contingent would be to provide a mobile company at force headquarters to cater for reinforcement, escort and other operations. . . .

Mr Shatter added that if the mission was approved by the Dáil this week it would complete the so-called triple lock safeguard procedure by which Ireland’s defence forces can only be deployed abroad with a combination of of UN, Government and Dáil approval.  (photo: Irish Defense Forces)

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