Since 1974, UNDOF has continued to observe the ceasefire and supervise the disengagement agreement.
On 6 October 1973, war erupted in the Middle East between Egyptian and Israeli forces in the Suez Canal area and the Sinai, and between Israeli and Syrian forces in the Golan Heights. On 24 October, as fighting between Egypt and Israel reached a critical stage, the Security Council decided to set up a second United Nations Emergency Force II (UNEF II). The Force was immediately moved into place between the Israeli and Egyptian armies in the Suez Canal area, and its arrival effectively stabilized the situation. However, no new peacekeeping operation at that time was established on the Syrian front.
In the Israel-Syria sector tension remained high, and from March 1974 the situation became increasingly unstable. Against this background, the United States undertook a diplomatic initiative, which resulted in the conclusion of an Agreement on Disengagement between Israeli and Syrian forces [S/11302/Add.1, annexes I and II] . The Agreement provided for an area of separation and for two equal zones of limited forces and armaments on both sides of the area, and called for the establishment of a United Nations observer force to supervise its implementation. The Agreement was signed on 31 May 1974 and, on the same day, the Security Council adopted resolution 350 (1974) by which it set up the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF).
On 3 June 1974, the Secretary-General appointed an interim commander of UNDOF who arrived in Damascus on the same day and immediately established a provisional headquarters in the premises of the Israel-Syria Mixed Armistice Commission. The interim Commander command over the 90 UNTSO observers detailed to UNDOF.
Later the same day, advance parties of the Austrian and Peruvian contingents arrived in the mission area. They were joined on the following days by the remainder of the two contingents and the Canadian and Polish logistic elements. Some logistic support was provided by UNEF II.
By 16 June 1974, the strength of UNDOF was brought to 1,218 all ranks, near its authorized level of 1,250.
The Force has since performed its functions effectively, with the cooperation of the parties. The situation in the Israel-Syria sector has remained quiet. Both parties cooperate fully with the mission and for a number of years there have been no serious incidents.
In order to carry out its mandate, UNDOF maintains an area of separation, which is over 75 kilometres (46.6 miles) long and varies in width between approximately 10 kilometres (6.21 miles) in the centre to 200 metres (0.12 miles) in the extreme south. The terrain is hilly and is dominated in the north by Mount Hermon, which is the location of the highest permanently manned United Nations position at an altitude of 2,814 metres (1,75 miles). The area of separation is inhabited, governed and policed by the Syrian authorities. No military forces other than UNDOF are permitted within it.
UNDOF is entirely deployed within and close to the area of separation, with two base camps, 20 permanently manned positions, eight outposts manned during daylight hours and eleven observation posts. UNDOF actively patrols the area of separation by day and night. The Austrian battalion, which includes a Croatian company, is deployed in the northern part of the area of separation, while the Philippines battalion is deployed in south, and is based in Camp Ziouani. Mine clearance is conducted by both battalions under the operational control of UNDOF Headquarters. UNDOF is assisted by the military observers of UNTSO's Observer Group Golan.
UNDOF headquarters is located at Camp Faouar and an office is maintained in Damascus. Logistic support to UNDOF is provided by Indian and Japanese contingents based in Camp Ziouani, with a detachment in Camp Faouar. They perform the second-line general transport tasks, rotation transport, control and management of goods received by UNDOF and maintenance of heavy equipment. First-line logistic support is internal to the contingents and includes transport of supplies to the positions.
From its numerous positions and through patrolling, UNDOF supervises the area of separation and intervenes whenever any military personnel enter or try to operate therein. This is accomplished using permanently manned positions and observation posts, foot and mobile patrols operating at irregular intervals by day and night, and closes contact and liaison with the host nations.
On each side of the area of separation there is an area of limitation with three zones; a zone of 0 to 10 kilometres (6.21 miles) from the area of separation, a zone of 10 (6.21 miles) to 20 kilometres (12.43 miles) from the area of separation, and a zone of 20 (12.43 miles) to 25 kilometres (15.53 miles) from the area of separation. UNDOF inspects these areas every two weeks in order to ascertain that the agreed limitations in armaments and forces are being observed within these areas of limitation.
UNDOF assists the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in facilitating the passage of mail, goods, and persons through the area of separation during special crossing events. Within the integral medical resources of UNDOF, medical treatment is provided to the local population on request.
In UNDOF’s area of operation, especially in the area of separation, minefields continue to pose a threat to UNDOF personnel and local inhabitants. In consultation with the Syrian authorities, UNDOF instituted a minefield security and maintenance programme in the area of separation to identify and mark all minefields. UNDOF also supports activities to promote mine awareness among the civilian population.
Another priority for the mission is to address the environmental consequences of UNDOF’s activities and presence in the area of operations and is taking steps to ensure that its presence does not contribute to further environmental pollution of the area.Top