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Irish troops in training for their deployment to the UN Disengagement Observation Force in the Golan Heights.
Irish troops in training for their deployment to the UN Disengagement Observation Force in the Golan Heights.
Image: PA Wire/Press Association Images

Irish troops on high alert after rebels capture Golan Heights border crossing

But they’re safe at the moment.
Aug 28th 2014, 9:27 AM 10,933 68

IRISH TROOPS ON a UN peace-keeping mission are safe but on high alert after Al Qaeda-linked Syrian rebels captured a border crossing into the Golan Heights yesterday.

Three Irish soldiers are stationed close to the frontier crossing between Syria and the Israeli-owned Golan Heights, which was captured by the Islamist Al-Nusra Front after heavy fighting with Syrian government forces.

The Irish troops are part of a 130-strong UN Disengagement Observation Force located 20 km from the site of yesterday’s fighting.

A Defence Forces spokesperson told TheJournal.ie that the Irish troops were currently on high alert, but safe.

There have been a number of engagements between armed elements in the Golan Heights in the last 24 hours.
Irish Defence Forces personnel deployed to the UN Disengagement Observation Forces (UNDOF) with the 44th Infantry Group remain on high alert and all Defence Forces personnel and equipment remain safe and accounted for.
The 44th Infantry Group continue to monitor the situation.

Mideast Israel Syria Smoke rises as rebels clash with Syrian government forces at a border crossing between Syria and the Golan Heights. Source: AP/Press Association Images

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said an array of rebel fighters, including from the Al Qaeda-linked Nusra Front and the Western-backed Free Syrian Army, took the crossing after heavy fighting.

At least 20 Syrian soldiers and an unknown number of rebels were killed.

It said clashes also raged in the towns of Jaba, Tal Kroum and Rawadi in Quneitra province.

The fighting on the Syrian side of the Golan Heights frontier spilled over into Israel, with errant fire wounding an army officer and Israeli civilian, Israel’s military said.

In response, the Israeli Defence Forces said they attacked Syrian military positions in the Golan Heights.

From the Israeli side of the de facto border, large clouds of smoke could be seen, as gunfire and explosions sounded in the distance. Israeli soldiers observed the fighting.

Israel says it holds the Syrian government responsible for any violence that emanates from its territory.

Israel captured the Golan Heights, a strategic plateau overlooking northern Israel, from Syria in the 1967 Mideast war.

Contains reporting by Associated Press.

Read: Irish peacekeeping troops experiencing ‘some harassment’ in Syria>

Watch: Irish troops return home from their six-month tour of duty in Syria

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Dan MacGuill

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