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Dublin: 12 °C Thursday 24 April, 2014

Irish troops’ vehicle in Syria blast ‘struck a mine’ while reversing

Troops came under fire last week while travelling in a UN convoy.

A sign warning of the danger of landmines in the Golan Heights.
A sign warning of the danger of landmines in the Golan Heights.
Image: Jacqueline Larma/AP/PA

AN INVESTIGATION INTO an incident in which Irish troops in Syria were hit by a blast while coming under fire has found that the vehicle they were in reversed onto a landmine.

Last week the troops, who are on a United Nations peacekeeping mission in Golan Heights, were travelling in a convoy of armour vehicles in the village of Ruihinah – in the area of separation between Israel and Syria.

They were fired on by armed elements from one of the warring factions and a vehicle was damaged in a blast. One soldier sustained minor soft tissue damage.

It was originally thought that an improvised explosive device deliberately placed there to target the troops may have been a factor. However a Defence Forces spokesperson told TheJournal.ie that an investigation into the incident has now found that the vehicle “struck a mine” when it reversed while attempting to leave the area.

The spokesperson said the mines are “a legacy issue” from the various wars in the 60s and 70s and there is “no evidence to suggest it was targeted”.

Ireland has deployed 115 members of the Defence Forces to this UN mission, joining personnel from various international armies including Fiji, Nepal, India and the Philippines.

The role of the Irish troops is to provide a mobile company as Force Headquarters Reserve in the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force to cater for reinforcement, escort and other operations in the ‘Area of Responsibility’. Their functions are similar to those provided in Liberia and Lebanon.

Read: Irish troops in Syria return fire after being hit by “unknown blast”>

Read: Artillery rounds land metres from Irish troops in Syria gun battle>

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