Fears as mortar bombs launched into Golan Heights

Defence Minster Simon Coveney has voiced concerns about mortar bombs being launched into the Golan Heights where Irish peacekeeping troops are stationed.

Two UN peacekeepers were hurt in strikes on the Israeli-occupied territory from neighbouring Syria.

While Mr Coveney confirmed that no Irish soldiers were caught up in the incident, he warned that the situation remained volatile, where the Irish 46th Infantry Group is based at Camp Ziouani.

“I am fully aware that peacekeeping operations are not without risk, however, the safety of our troops is my priority,” he said.

“I am concerned at the recent incidents and will continue to monitor developments in the region.”

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The Irish Defence Forces has been in the Golan Heights since 2013, acting as a quick reaction force, on stand-by to help the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF).

Along with troops from Fiji, India, Nepal, and the Netherlands, they monitor a ceasefire line that has separated Israelis from Syrians for more than four decades.

The Israeli military said the latest mortar bombs launched into the Golan Heights yesterday appeared to be stray fire from the conflict in Syria.

An Israeli military spokeswoman said the peacekeepers were taken for treatment at an Israeli hospital. She said she had no further details on their condition or nationality. Israel Radio said they were wounded slightly.

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UNDOF could not be reached for comment.

Shells fired in battles between forces loyal to Syrian president Bashar al-Assad and rebels trying to topple him in four years of fighting have occasionally landed on the Golan Heights.

The UN mission known as UNDOF — with about 800 soldiers from the participant countries — was established in 1974.

It monitors a ceasefire line on the Golan Heights that has separated Israelis from Syrians since a 1973 war.

Israel captured the Golan Heights from Syria in the 1967 Middle East war.

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