July 17, 2013

Nepali peacekeepers being deployed in Syria

Added At:  2013-07-11 10:56 PM
Last Updated At: 2013-07-11 10:56 PM
Lekhnath Pandey

KATHMANDU: Amid deepening crisis in Syria‚ scores of Nepali peacekeepers are set to be deployed in the war-ravaged country to defuse possible tension between old-foes Syria and Israel.

A total of 230 Nepali Army soldiers are being deployed on the Syrian side of Golan Heights‚ the strategically sensitive Syria-Israel border area.

UN peacekeepers‚ under the name of United Nations Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF)‚ have already been deployed in the Golan Heights to maintain ceasefire between Israel and Syria since May 31‚ 1974.

The Cabinet today decided to immediately send a contingent of 130 Nepali peacekeepers to Syria from the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL)‚ where as many as 850 Nepali peacekeepers are working to maintain ceasefire between Lebanon and Israel.

Government Spokesperson and Minister for Information and Communications Madhav Paudel said another contingent of 100 Nepali peacekeepers will be deployed there from September 1. The second contingent will be dispatched from Nepal.

Though peacekeepers from India‚ the Philippines‚ Croatia and Austria have already been deployed in Golan Heights‚ the Nepalese contingent was not deployed there earlier. 

However‚ Nepalese peace observers are already in Golan Heights under the blue helmet.

Minister Paudel said the decision was taken following the Untied Nations’ request last month for Nepalese peacekeepers in Golan Heights. Because of the urgency‚ the government decided to make available the first contingent of peacekeepers from UNIFIL‚ where Nepali Army will send the same number of peacekeepers later.

“Our contingent is ready in position in UNIFIA‚” Army Spokesperson Suresh Sharma told THT. “When UN Headquarters directs them to be in Syria‚ they will be there immediately.” 

Syria will be third Middle-East country where Nepalese peacekeepers will be deployed. Besides UNIFIL of Lebanon‚ a contingent of 77 Nepalese soldiers has been deployed in Kirkuk of Iraq under the UN flag for the last two years.

The UN had requested Nepal government to provide some peacekeepers to deploy on the Syrian side of the Israel-Syria border last month. Tension has escalated between the two countries amid the deepening crisis in Syria.

Sharma made it clear that Nepalese peacekeepers are not being deployed in Damascus. Over 100‚000 people‚ mostly civilians have already been killed in two years of civil war in Syria‚ where western countries-backed rebel group called Free Syrian Army has been waging armed-struggle to topple President President Bashar Al Assad.

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