UN forces begin first patrols in Golan Heights DMZ since 2011
UN troops on Friday patrolled the Syrian side of the demilitarized Golan Heights buffer zone with Israel for the first time since the war broke out in 2011, the deputy commander of Russian forces in Syria said.
UN peacekeepers entered the area from Syria on August 3 after government troops drove militants away. The UN had previously to rely on Lebanon for access to this stretch of the border.
“Today’s mission to the Golan Heights was prepared by Russian and UN forces. An earlier mission was carried out with Russian military police, while today’s patrol was conducted by the UN alone,” Lt. Gen. Sergei Kuralenko said.
Russia plans to set up eight posts near the buffer zone between Syria and Israel, deputy chief of Russian military police Viktor Zaitsev said. None of them will be in the demilitarized zone, he added.
Syria came to control the Golan Heights in 1944 but lost the area to Israel in the 1967 Arab-Israeli war.
The UN did not recognize Israeli sovereignty over the region and brokered an armistice between the two in 1974, forcing Israel out of parts of Golan and the destroyed capital of the Quneitra province.