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Dublin: 7 °C Monday 18 November, 2019

Shatter says Syrian war is making Lebanon ‘increasingly unstable’

The Minister for Defence also revealed that the UN has requested that Irish observers be sent to Syria.

Irish UN peacekeeper soldiers in the southern village of Tebnine, Lebanon (file photo).
Irish UN peacekeeper soldiers in the southern village of Tebnine, Lebanon (file photo).
Image: Mohammad Zaatari/AP/Press Association Images

THE MINISTER FOR DEFENCE Alan Shatter has said that Lebanon – where Ireland’s Defence Forces perform peace-keeping duties – is becoming “increasingly unstable” due to the civil war in Syria.

Shatter also revealed that Ireland had received a request from the United Nations (UN) within the last month to deploy a number of additional observers to the headquarters of the UN Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF) in Syria.

“These requests are currently receiving consideration and a decision will be made shortly,” he said.

Responding to Parliamentary Questions on whether more Irish troops would need to be committed to Lebanon, Shatter said that there was no plans “at this time to increase Ireland’s contribution to UNIFIL.”

Troops overseas

There are currently 439 Irish Defence Forces personnel serving overseas – 427 Army, two Naval Service and 10 Air Corps personnel.

In response to questions about overseas numbers from deputies Dessie Ellis and Bernard J Durkan, Shatter outlined the breakdown of troops:

  • UNIFIL – 357 personnel
  • EU Training Mission (EUTM) Somalia – 10 personnel
  • EU Training Mission in Mali (EUTM Mali) – eight personnel
  • EUFOR mission in Bosnia and Herzegovina – seven personnel
  • The NATO-led international security presence (KFOR) in Kosovo – 12 personnel
  • International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan – seven personnel
  • Observers and staff to various United Nations and OSCE missions – 23 personnel
  • Staff appointments at UN, EU and OSCE headquarters – 15 personnel

The defence minister said that this reflected the government’s continued “commitment to our responsibilities in the area of international peace and security.”

Read: Syria: 3.1 million children need ‘urgent’ help >

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Paul Hyland

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