Irish troops complete move back to Syrian side of Golan Heights

‘The Irish were originally deployed to the Syrian side. But they withdrew to the Israeli-occupied area after fighting related to the civil war in Syria compromised their safety’

Defence Forces troops of the 7th Infantry Battalion, Dublin, and members of the 58th Infantry Group training at the Glen of Imaal on September 5th. They are entering their final phase of training after three months of intensive preparation for their forthcoming deployment to the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF) in Syria. Photograph: Colin Keegan, Collins

Defence Forces troops of the 7th Infantry Battalion, Dublin, and members of the 58th Infantry Group training at the Glen of Imaal on September 5th. They are entering their final phase of training after three months of intensive preparation for their forthcoming deployment to the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF) in Syria. Photograph: Colin Keegan, Collins

 

Irish troops serving as part of a UN mission in the Middle East have moved back to the Syrian side of the Golan Heights after withdrawing four years ago.

The Irish were originally deployed to the Syrian side. But they withdrew to the Israeli-occupied area after fighting related to the civil war in Syria compromised their safety.

However, amid more stable conditions and following a new security assessment the troops have now been moved to Camp Faouar on the Syrian side of the area of separation between the two countries.

The move was completed in recent days after taking place in phases, with some UN personnel beginning to move back two years ago.

The Irish personnel are serving on the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF) monitoring a truce between Syria and neighbouring Israel in place since 1974.

The deployment is unrelated to the civil war in Syria.

However, as recently as last year that conflict had spread into the Irish area and right up to their new base on the Israeli side where they had moved to four years ago.

In August, 2014, members of the Defence Forces were forced to rescue a group of Fijian troops whose position was surrounded by Syrian rebels. After that and other incidents, the Irish moved their base onto the Israeli side of the zone.

The Irish had also been fired at a number of times in 2013 and 2014. They returned fire on a number of occasions and had one of their armoured vehicles damaged in a road side bomb.