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UN sends extra armored cars to Golan Heights force

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

The United Nations has sent extra armored personnel carriers and ambulances to its mission in the Golan Heights because of the growing fallout from the Syrian war, a spokeswoman said Wednesday.

The announcement of the extra equipment for the force monitoring a ceasefire between Israel and Syria was made as the UN Security Council expressed concern at the growing dangers for the peacekeepers.

Twenty-one Philippine peacekeepers were abducted for several days by Syrian rebels earlier this month. There have also been a growing number of shootings around UN observation posts, and UN vehicles have been stolen.

"Extra armored cars and armored ambulances are on the way to the force," said a UN peacekeeping spokeswoman, Josephine Guerrero.

The UN is also in contact with several countries to find replacements for about 100 Croatian troops who have been withdrawn from the UN Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF), according to UN peacekeeping chief Herve Ladsous.

UNDOF has about 1,000 peacekeepers who have only light arms.

A Security Council statement expressed "grave concern" at the presence of Syrian government forces and opposition rebels in the ceasefire zone which the UN has monitored since 1974.

The Council stressed that the government has primary responsibility for UNDOF's safety and called on President Bashar al-Assad's government to "respect UNDOF's privileges and immunities and to ensure the security of and unhindered and immediate access for United Nations personnel carrying out their mandate."

The council welcomed the "additional security upgrades and equipment" sent to UNDOF.

tw/sst

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/130327/un-sends-extra-armored-cars-golan-heights-force