10 Aug 2018 11:07

UN mission patrols demilitarized zone near Golan Heights in Syria without Russian military police

AL-WASIYAH (Syria). Aug 10 (Interfax) - A United Nations mission has patrolled the demilitarized zone near the Golan Heights in Syria on the border with Israel on its own for the first time, without a Russian military police escort, Lt. Gen. Sergei Kuralenko, deputy commander of the Russian group of forces in Syria, said.

"Today's patrol of the Golan Heights is the result of preliminary steps taken by the Russian side jointly with UN forces. Earlier, we escorted this patrol [mission] with the help of the Russian military police. But today, the UN patrolled [the area] on its own under the supervision of the force commander at the Golan Heights," Kuralenko said.

This will allow UN forces to control the posts that are currently under the control of the Israeli military along the Alpha line in the demilitarized zone, he said.

"The UN flag, like the Russian flag, is a symbol of stability. Today, the Russian flag raised in the demilitarized zone is a symbol of confidence in tomorrow, calm, and is also a guarantor of peace. However, all of us understand that UN forces should control this zone in accordance with the resolution passed in 1973, and Russia will do all it can to make sure that this resolution is implemented," he said.

Head of Mission and Commander of the UN Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF) Francis Vib-Sanziri said that during the patrol observers saw a destroyed bridge that was part of the main road leading from Damascus to the passage to the Alpha line at the Golan Heights. The objective of this patrol mission was to assess the condition of the bridge and the road, he said.

These observations will be included in a report that will be forwarded to the UN headquarters, he said.

The main goal now is to restore the bridge and the road to provide the UN forces with unhindered access to the area of Syria they are tasked with patrolling, Vib-Sanziri said.

Russia has been providing assistance to Syrians, he said, adding that its efforts have helped UN observers return to the demilitarized zone.