Developments Around Quneitra

Recent days have seen a brief change-of-hands between Syrian rebels and Assad’s forces of the town of Quneitra on the Israeli-Syrian border.

In this regard an informative brief to the Security Council by UN Under Secretary General Herve Ladsous was revealed by blogger Nabil Abi Saab, who runs UN Report.

The most notable element in the brief is an incident where UNDOF forces apparently prevented a clash between the IDF and Syrian forces. In their attempt to retake Quneitra, the Syrian army had moved 5 tanks and 5 APC’s into the demilitarized zone between Syria and the Israeli-held part of the Golan. The IDF thereupon notified UNDOF that it would take action against these forces, should their movement continue. UNDOF, in turn, relayed this message to the Syrians, who responded by confirming that the Syrian army action was directed only at Quneitra and asking the IDF not to act. The IDF subsequently refrained from firing at the Syrian troops (athough at the time of the report there were still 4 tanks and 3 APC’s in the demilitarized zone).

This incident illustrates the important role the UNDOF troops play in preserving stability on the Israeli-Syrian border, even if they cannot prevent intra-Syrian clashes in the area. This makes the Austrian withdrawal of its UNDOF force all the more worrisome.

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