ALL 115 MEMBERS of the Defence Forces taking part in the UNDOF mission to the Golan Heights area of Syria have arrived safely at their camp.
The 12 officers and 103 soldiers of various ranks had been due to deploy at the start of the month, but the mission was delayed at the request of the UN for administration reasons.
The main body of the contingent comprising 89 staff deployed from Baldonnel on Friday, travelling through Lebanon and arriving at their headquarters in Camp Faouar last night.
They join an advance party of 26 personnel, who deployed the previous week.
Irish troops will not have any mandate to get involved in the ongoing internal struggle in the country; the UNDOF mission, in place for almost 40 years, is tasked with keeping the peace between Syria and Israel.
Confirming the deployment, Defence Minister Alan Shatter said the group would be “tasked primarily as the Force Mobile Reserve to undertake reinforcement, reaction, escort and other operations throughout UNDOF’s Area of Responsibility”.
“The successful deployment of the contingent today represents the completion of the full deployment of the Defence Forces in Golan and will help reinforce UNDOF and secure the Mission in undertaking its difficult but important role in the Golan Heights.
“I would like to take this opportunity to wish them well on their tour of duty.”
The Irish troops will be commanded by Lieutenant Colonel Brendan Delaney, who has previously completed tours in East Timor and Lebanon – as well as six months in Syria and a tour of duty with the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan.
Speaking to TheJournal.ie ahead of the deployment, Brendan discussed the troops’ preparations, what they will be doing on a day-to-day basis, and the protocol they’ve been trained to observe in the event of chemical weapons attacks: