Syria and Israel have extended for another six months the United Nations peacekeeping mandate on the Golan Heights.
Syria and Israel have extended for another six months the United Nations peacekeeping mandate on the Golan Heights. Their agreement followed Tuesday's (23 November) recommendation for an extension by UN Secretary-General, Kurt Waldheim.
SYNOPSIS: The force was told about the extension by their commander, General Hannes Phillip.
General Phillips is form the Austrian army, and has been the forces' commander since the inception of UNDOF - the United Nations Disengagement Observer force - in 1974. His announcement was made at the camp of the Iranian battalion at Kuneitra. Before he made it he attended a parade by the Iranians at which he presented awards to nine men for outstanding service in the force.
Major negotiations to try to bring about a peaceful solution to the troubled Middle East are expected to start early next year. But until then UNDOF will continue to provide an effective buffer zone between Israel and Syria.
There are now men from 32 countries serving in the force, with officers coming form 16 of them. In the last two years, and efficient system of maintaining a watch has been put into operation. Communications have been stream lined to such an extent that the least unusual movement in the area can be relayed back to headquarters immediately, and the appropriate action taken. But General Phillip said there have so far been only minor infringements by both sides unusually unintentional.
In the field the introduction of task forces, ready at any given movement to go to a troubleshoot, has proven itself particularly effective. Patrols of inspection in the limited forces zones are unarmed. Others carry only light arms - a sign of confidence that the problems there could soon be over, and the troops sent home.