Report: UN Exploring Possibility of Adding Swedish Soldiers to Golan Force
The UN is exploring the possibility of adding Swedish peacekeepers to its force situated in the demilitarized zone between Syria and Israel’s Golan Heights, AFP reports.
“It’s in very preliminary stages,” an Israeli source, speaking on condition of anonymity, told the press agency.
“It hasn’t been established yet who agrees, who wants it. The conditions are not clear,” the source said.
Israeli daily Haaretz reported on Thursday that Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt favored sending troops to the region.
However, Haaretz said that Bildt would only send Swedes as part of a larger Nordic force from Finland, Norway and Denmark.
Austria started withdrawing troops Wednesday, a week after it cited conditions on the border as being too dangerous for its continued presence there.
The Israeli official said “we don’t know everything that the Swedes said to Ban, but we know that there are feelers in that direction.”
Ban called on the UN Security Council to consider measures to strengthen the force in light of Austria’s pullout. “These include, as a matter of priority, enhancing the self-defence capabilities of UNDOF,” he said in a report.
The Philippines, which has 341 troops in the Golan, has also voiced its concern over the rising level of violence along the border due to the Syrian conflict.
India is the only other current contributor, with 193 soldiers in UNDOF. Contingents from Canada, Japan and Croatia have already withdrawn.
Ban said the United Nations is “urgently” seeking reinforcements and that the force should number 1,250.