Austria says it will pull its 370 troops from the U.N. force in the Golan Heights because the conflict in Syria has spread to a strategic border crossing.
Security conditions have deteriorated in the area around the U.N. Golan Heights headquarters since the Quneitra crossing became the site of a clash between Syrian and rebel forces, CNN reported Friday.
Austria's announcement it will remove its soldiers slashes the number of U.N. troops in the Golan Heights by one-third.
Filipino and Indian peacekeepers will remain and the United Nations may bring in troops from other nations, spokeswoman Josephine Guerrero said.
On Friday, Syrian tanks crossed into a demilitarized zone and two U.N. peacekeepers were wounded when a mortar shell fell near the U.N. base, Israeli officials said.
Syrian rebels briefly took control Thursday of the Quneitra crossing, the only route between Israel and Syria, The New York Times reported.
In Russia Friday, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Western support for the Syrian opposition will only fuel violence in the country.
"We are disturbed by statements coming from leaders of the so-called Free Syrian Army as well as from some U.S, representatives, to the effect that support for the armed opposition will continue in order to restore the military balance on the ground. That is a road to nowhere," Lavrov said.
|United Nations Austria|