Syria and Israel 'on verge of military attack' - UN official
A peacekeeper of the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF) stands guard on Friday at an entrance of the UNDOF zone near Quneitra crossing in the Israeli annexed Golan Heights. AFP Photo
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Israeli defense forces allegedly threatened to attack Syrian tanks on its border in a request submitted to the UN Security Council in recent weeks, Israeli media reported on Sunday.
The document was submitted to the Security Council by Herve Ladsous, UN Under Secretary General for Peacekeeping Operations, the Israel-based Ynet news site reported.
The report states that the IDF warned UNDOF that it would “take action” if Syrian army tanks continued to operate in the buffer zone.
In a meeting with 15 members of the Security Council in New York, Ladsous said the IDF and Syrian army were on the verge of a military clash.
He warned it would be the most direct clash between Israel and Syria on the Golan Heights front in the past 40 years.
But after receiving the message, the Syrian regime asked that Israel refrain from firing on its vehicles as “the presence of the tanks was solely for the purpose of fighting the armed members of the opposition,” The Jerusalem Post reported.
Israel allegedly acceded to the request, but did confirm that it had given medical treatment to members of the Syria opposition wounded in the fighting, according to the report.
American journalist Nabil Abi Saab, who regularly covers United Nations activity in his blog UN-Report, on Saturday posted a copy of the document apparently from the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF), which monitors the ceasefire between Israel and Syria following the 1973 Yom Kippur.
The UN document, titled “Note on developments in UNDOF,” said that after the Syrian opposition fighters capture of Quneitra, the Syrian army put five tanks and five armored personnel carriers in the demilitarized buffer zone in the Golan, Ynet reported.
The Quneitra crossing, the only border crossing between the neighboring countries is a symbol of the Assad regime in the Golan Heights, but has become a key target for opposition forces.
Earlier this week, the rebel fighters seized control of the crossing, but it was recaptured by Assad’s forces a few hours later, according to Reuters news agency.
“The Israel Defense Forces informed the UNDOF (Commander that should the movement of SAAF tanks continue, the IDF would take action. Subsequently, the UNDOF Force Commander conveyed the message to the Senior Syrian Arab Delegate (SSAD), UNDOF’s main interlocutor on the Bravo side,” the document stated.
“The SSAD informed the UNDOF Force Commander that the presence of the tanks was solely for the purpose of fighting the armed members of the opposition and asked that the IDF not take action,” it read.
Although Israel is yet to confirm the exchange, defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon‘s office explained that Israel had complained to the UN about the entrance of tanks into the buffer zone.