17 May 2013 Members of the Security Council have ‘strongly condemned’ the looting of a UN observation post in the Golan Heights and the temporary detention of three peacekeepers, the third such incident in the past two months.
The Security Council, in a press statement released on 16 May, “strongly condemned the incident on May 15 in which a group of anti-government armed elements detained three United Nations military observers from UNTSO’s Observer Group Golan for several hours, and looted a United Nations observation post within the Area of Separation.”
The three observers from the United Nations Truce Supervision Organization (UNTSO) were held for approximately five hours and returned unharmed to UN Observation Post 52 where they were met by the UN Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF) Head of Mission, according to a note today from the UN Office of the Spokesperson for the Secretary-General.
Earlier in the month, four UNDOF ‘blue helmets’ were seized by armed elements near Al Jamlah and later released; while in March, 21 Filipino peacekeepers were seized by armed elements of the Syrian opposition and released four days later.
At that time, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon reiterated to all parties the impartiality of UN peacekeepers and calling for respecting of the Mission's freedom of movement and the safety and security of its personnel.
In its statement, the Security Council called on all parties to cooperate with the UNDOF and UNTSO' s Observer Group Golan in good faith “to enable them to operate freely and to ensure full security of the UN personnel, and reiterated their unconditional support for UNDOF and UNTSO.”
Peacekeepers serving with UNDOF monitor the 1974 disengagement accord between Syria and Israel after their 1973 war. In December, the Security Council extended the mission's mandate for another six months, until 30 June 2013.
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