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June 6, 2013 10:18 pm

Syrian Rebels Briefly Seize Control of Golan Border Crossing, Austria Pulls Peacekeepers

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The Israel-Syria Quneitra border crossing, which was briefly seized by Syrian rebels Thursday, prompting Austria to pulls its peacekeepers there. Photo: Wikimedia Commons. – Syrian rebels fighting the regime of President Bashar al-Assad briefly took control of the Quneitra border crossing between Israel and Syria in the Golan Heights on Thursday, forcing the Austrian U.N. peacekeepers stationed there to flee.

As a result of the incident, Austria has decided to pull its 380 peacekeepers following the battle there, Reuters reported.

The 1,000-strong United Nations Disengagement Observer Force has been monitoring the Quneitra crossing since the 1973 Yom Kippur War. Israeli International Relations Minister Yuval Steinitz issued a statement expressing regret over the Austrian withdrawal, while also extrapolating a lesson for Israel.

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“Even as part of peace agreements, Israel cannot place its security in the hands of international forces instead of relying on the presence of IDF soldiers,” Steinitz said, according to theJerusalem Post.

A spokesman for U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon siad Ban is urgently looking for a country to replace the Austrian contingent, calling the peacekeeping mission “essential.”

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