UN chief accuses Syria of violating Golan accord

Last Updated: Tuesday, December 4, 2012 - 10:20

United Nations: UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon accused the Syrian government of serious violations of the 1974 agreement that separated Israeli and Syrian forces in the Golan Heights and called on both countries to halt firing across the cease-fire line.

In a report to the UN Security Council, Ban said recent incidents across the cease-fire line have shown the potential for the escalation of Israeli-Syrian tensions and jeopardise the disengagement agreement and stability of the region which is already facing a spillover from the 19-month Syria conflict.

"I am concerned that the presence of armed members of the opposition and the ongoing military activities of the Syrian security forces have the potential to ignite a larger conflict between Israel and the Syrian Arab Republic with grave consequences," Ban said. "There should be no military activity of any kind in the area of separation."

He said such activity poses a risk to the long-held cease-fire, to the local civilian population, and the UN personnel on the ground.

The UN chief recommended a six-month extension of the 1,036-strong UN peacekeeping force in the Golan Heights, until June 30.

The UN Disengagement Observer Force, known as UNDOF, was established in 1974, following the 1973 Yom Kippur war, to monitor the disengagement of Israeli and Syrian forces in the Golan Heights.

Israel captured the Golan Heights from Syria in 1967, and Syria wants the land returned in exchange for peace. Since indirect peace talks between Syria and Israel ended in December 2008, there have been no negotiations and Ban said the current Syrian crisis further complicates efforts to reach a peace agreement.

But Ban stressed that the conflict does not absolve the Syrian government of its responsibility under international law to protect civilians.

He urged President Bashar Assad`s regime to stop deploying troops and military equipment in the disputed zone.

The secretary-general cited several incidents of Syrian shelling across the line into Israel, and Israeli retaliation. Syrian army firing has at times come close to UN personnel and facilities, he said.

Since July, Ban said, there were also numerous clashes between Syrian security forces and opposition fighters in the disengagement zone, two involving about 1,760 Syrian security personnel, including soldiers.

On September 29, he said, UNDOF saw nine Syrian security forces personnel killed by 13 armed members of the opposition during an ambush inside the area of separation.

PTI



First Published: Tuesday, December 4, 2012 - 10:20

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