Austria says peacekeepers to stay in Golan for now

Vienna warned it would pull 380 troops from UN buffer zone if EU arms Syria rebels after attempts to renew arms ban fails.

May 28, 2013 13:57
1 minute read.
Peacekeeping troops with UNDOF

UN peacekeeping troops Syria-Israel 150. (photo credit: REUTERS/Ronen Zvulun)

Austria retracted a threat to pull 380 peacekeepers from the UN buffer zone between Syria and Israel, saying on Tuesday that only Britain and France - not the whole European Union - were ready to arm Syrian rebels.

Vienna had led efforts to extend an EU arms embargo on Syria, arguing that sending more weapons to the region would only fan the fighting, dash hopes for a peace deal and make Austrian peacekeeping troops potential targets for retribution.

Attempts to renew the

Their exit after four decades keeping the peace since the 1973 Arab-Israeli war would leave a huge hole in the already troubled 1,000-strong United Nations force separating the armies of two countries still formally at war.

"We don't have the urgent situation of having to pull out tomorrow," Spindelegger said, adding that Austria would continue to review security conditions with the United Nations.

He said UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon "is completely on our side and says we don't need more weapons in Syria".

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