Friday, June 7, 2013

Austria to quit Golan force over Syria violence

Austria said on Thursday it would pull out of a U.N. force on the Golan Heights after battles between Syrian troops and rebels there, in a blow to a mission that has kept the Israeli-Syrian war front quiet for 40 years.

Israel, anxious for the international mission to remain in place, worried that the Golan could become a springboard for attacks on Israelis by Islamist militants fighting to oust Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

"While appreciating Austria's longtime contribution and commitment to peacekeeping in the Middle East, we nevertheless regret this decision and hope that it will not be conducive to further escalation in the region," the Israeli Foreign Ministry said in a statement.