UN demands end to military action in Golan Heights
UNITED NATIONS (AP) — The U.N. Security Council on Wednesday strongly condemned the recent intense fighting between Syrian government and opposition fighters in the Golan Heights and demanded an end to all military activity in the area that has separated Syrian and Israeli forces since 1974.
A resolution unanimously adopted by the council echoed Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s finding that ongoing military activities in the area of separation “have the potential to escalate tensions” between Israel and Syria, jeopardize the cease-fire between the two countries and pose a risk to civilians and U.N. personnel.
The resolution extends the U.N. mission monitoring the Israeli-Syrian cease-fire, which currently has about 1,250 troops, until Dec. 31.
The mission, known as UNDOF, was established in May 1974 following intensified firing on the Israel-Syria border after the 1973 Arab-Israeli war. Israel captured the Golan Heights from Syria in 1967, and Syria has campaigned for decades for return of the land.
For nearly four decades, the U.N. monitors helped enforce a stable truce between Israel and Syria. But in recent months, the Golan Heights has increasingly become a battlefield in the more than three-year-old Syrian conflict. Syrian mortars overshooting their target have repeatedly hit the Israeli-controlled Golan, and U.N. peacekeepers have been abducted.
In the latest incident on Sunday, forces in Syria struck an Israeli civilian vehicle as it drove in the Golan Heights, killing a teenage boy and wounding two others. It was the first deadly incident along the volatile Israeli-Syrian front since Syria’s civil war erupted, and Israeli warplanes responded by bombing a series of targets inside Syria early Monday.
The Security Council resolution condemned the Syrian opposition’s use of improvised explosive devices in UNDOF’s area of operation and the use of heavy weapons by both sides in the area of separation during clashes. It also condemned “the horrific crimes” committed by some armed members of the opposition.
The resolution also stressed “that there should be no military activity of any kind in the area of separation, including military operations by the Syrian Arab Armed Forces.”