14:24 GMT25 January 2021
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    MOSCOW (Sputnik) - More than half of all United Nations Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF) peacekeepers in the Golan Heights are positioned on the Syrian side, including Camp Faouar headquarters, UNDOF public information officer Keishamaza Rukikaire-Kagwa told Sputnik.

    "In accordance with the Protocol to the Disengagement of Forces Agreement of 1974, the authorized strength of UNDOF is about 1,250 troops. Currently, UNDOF is comprised of about 990 troops and supported by 70 military observers from Observer Group Golan/UNTSO in carrying out its tasks. More than one-half of the Mission’s military personnel is deployed on the Bravo [Syrian] side, including its headquarters at Camp Faouar," Rukikaire-Kagwa said.

    The UNDOF is gradually coming back to the area, with the full return as the ultimate objective, the spokeswoman said.

    READ MORE: UN Mission Arrives at Foot of Golan Heights Via Syria 1st Time in 7 Years

    "UNDOF is implementing a gradual return to the area of separation. The ultimate goal for UNDOF is the full return, conditions permitting. The safety and security of UNDOF and Observer Group Golan personnel remain paramount as the Mission continues to implement its gradual return," she said.

    The spokeswoman noted the ongoing fighting between the Syrian government forces and armed groups in the southern part of the buffer zones and limitation areas next to them.

    "The peacekeepers observe high numbers of heavy explosions, rockets, heavy machine gun fire and artillery while in the central and northern parts of the separation areas of kinetic activity is low," the press officer said.

    According to the UNDOF, it kept on observing carefully the developments related to the de-escalation zone in the southwest of Syria, which had been established in accordance with an agreement reached last year by Russia, Jordan and the United States. The de-escalation zone and the UNDOF area of operation partially overlap.

    "UNDOF maintains contact with relevant interlocutors to seek clarity with regard to arrangements envisaged under the agreement and their potential implications for UNDOF in relation to the implementation of the UNDOF mandate and in ensuring the freedom of movement of the Force, as well as the safety and security of its personnel," the spokeswoman said.

    On Thursday, the Russian military said that UN peacekeepers, accompanied by Russian military police, carried out the first patrol in six years near the Syria-Israel disengagement line. UNDOF personnel had to abandon the positions on the Syrian side in 2014 due to the internal clashes in Syria and outbreaks of violence in the area.

    READ MORE: Israeli Embassy: Russian MP Deployment to Golan Heights Coordinated With Israel

    In 2014, most UNDOF personnel and Observer Group Golan military watchdog had to move to the Israeli side, although UNDOF maintained four UN positions on Mount Hermon and one position (Position 80) in the southern part of the area of separation on the Syrian side. The mission returned to Camp Faouar on the Bravo side in 2016. According to the UNDOF press office, limited patrolling on the Syrian side resumed in February 2018.

    UNDOF's mission is to ensure the ceasefire under the 1974 agreement, which was signed after a 1973 military conflict between Israel and several neighboring states including Syria.


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