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Dublin: 9 °C Friday 6 December, 2019
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After facing a delay, Irish troops will return home from Golan Heights and Syria this evening

The soldiers are now due to touch down at Dublin Airport at 7.15pm tonight, where they will be greeted by their families.

Image: Defence Forces

IRISH DEFENCE FORCES personnel who were due to return home from their six-month tour of the Golan Heights and Syria on Thursday morning will now touch down at Dublin Airport this evening.

The delay faced by the 130 troops from the 58th Infantry Group was the second occasion in the past year when soldiers didn’t return from their tour of duty on time.

When the delay became apparent on Wednesday, union PDFORRA said the delay was totally unacceptable. 

“We are absolutely gutted for their families and we are deeply disappointed this has arisen, especially as it occurred last October too,” its general secretary Ger Guinan said.

The soldiers are now due to touch down at Dublin Airport at 7.15pm tonight, where they will be greeted by their families.

In this case, the troops had served with the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF). The 58th Infantry Group was the first unit to deploy directly to Syria since the UN evacuated personnel from the area in 2014.

They have been replaced by the 59th Infantry Group, who are now serving with UNDOF in the region.

In a statement on Wednesday, the Department of Defence said the UN is responsible for organising the rotation flights out of the region, and approval had not yet been granted for the aircraft due to carry the Irish soldiers out.

Minister Paul Kehoe said his officials had worked with military and UN “round the clock to have this matter resolved”, and that it will be a “relief for our troops and their families” when they arrive home this evening. 

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Sean Murray

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