Defence Forces complete their deployment to the Golan Heights in Syria
The Minister for Justice, Equality and Defence, Mr. Alan Shatter, T.D., today welcomed the successful deployment of the 43rd Infantry Group of the Irish Defence Forces in the Golan Heights in Syria. The contingent joins the UN Disengagement Observation Force (UNDOF) maintaining the area of separation between Israel and Syria in Golan. The Defence Forces contingent will act as the force mobile reserve for UNDOF.
The main body of the Contingent deployed firstly from Casement Aerodrome, Baldonnel on Friday (27 September) to Beirut, Lebanon. The final phase of their deployment commenced at first light on Saturday (28 September, 2013), when the contingent of 89 personnel moved through Lebanon and Syria in an armed convoy, arriving at their headquarters in Camp Faouar on the Golan Heights on Saturday evening. They join an advance party of 26 Defence Forces personnel, who deployed to the Mission on 21 September 2013.
Speaking earlier today, the Minister said: “Members of the 43rd Infantry Group will be tasked primarily as the Force Mobile Reserve to undertake reinforcement, reaction, escort and other operations throughout UNDOF’s Area of Responsibility. The successful deployment of the contingent today represents the completion of the full deployment of the Defence Forces in Golan and will help reinforce UNDOF and secure the Mission in undertaking its difficult but important role in the Golan Heights. I would like to take this opportunity to wish them well on their tour of duty.”
The Minister went on to say: “The continued support of troop contributing countries, such as Ireland, to the UNDOF Mission is vital to allow the mission to continue the implementation of its mandate in a safe and secure manner. Helping to maintain the 40 year old ceasefire between Israel and Syria represents an important contribution to preventing further instability in this most troubled region, particularly at this time of significant conflict in Syria.”
Welcoming the unanimous adoption of the UN Security Council Resolution on the destruction of Syria’s Chemical Weapons, the Minister said, “the destruction of these heinous weapons is a vital step forward in supporting peace and security in the region and represents a welcome confirmation of the important role which the UN plays in ensuring collective security across the globe. What we now need is a real effort to deliver peace and security to the people of Syria and an end to the current conflict there”.
Note to Editors
On 1 July 2013, Ireland received a request from the United Nations to consider contributing to UNDOF a Mechanised Infantry Company for the tasks of a Force Mobile Reserve. The Defence Forces have previous experience in a similar role in Liberia and Lebanon.
Following Government approval, four (4) members of the Permanent Defence Force were deployed earlier this year to the UNDOF mission headquarters at Camp Faouar in the Golan Heights. The mandate of the UNDOF mission was recently renewed under UN Security Council Resolution 2108 (2013) for a further period of six months.
UNDOF is assisted by over eighty (80) military observers from the United Nations Truce Supervision Organisation’s (UNTSO) Observer Group Golan, which currently includes eight (8) Irish Officers. UNTSO operates under the command of Major General Mick Finn of the Defence Forces.
The United Nations Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF) was established on 31 May 1974 by Security Council resolution 350 (1974) , following the agreed disengagement of the Israeli and Syrian forces in the Golan Heights.