A United Nations convoy today came under fire close to the Damascus International Airport in Syria wounding at least four people, according to a UN spokesperson.
A vehicle of the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF) was carrying troops scheduled to rotate out of their mission when it came under gun fire in an area of Damascus where military operations between the Syrian armed forces and armed members of the opposition were taking place, a spokesperson for Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said in a statement.
Peacekeepers serving with UNDOF operates in the area of Golan, where they monitor the 1974 disengagement accord between Syria and Israel after their 1973 war. In July, the Security Council agreed to extend the mission’s mandate until 31 December this year.
Over the past couple of weeks there have been reported clashes in Golan between Syrian security forces and the armed opposition, linked to the violence taking place in Syria. On 22 November, Syrian arms fire in the Israel-occupied area prompted a response from Israel, and led Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to call on both countries to exercise restraint and cease fire.
“The Secretary-General remains deeply concerned about the evolution of the conflict in Syria,” Mr. Ban’s spokesperson added. “As today’s incident illustrates, the ongoing clashes between the Syrian armed forces and the armed members of the opposition affect UNDOF’s operations and pose a serious risk to United Nations personnel on the ground.”
Preliminary information from UNDOF stated that all its personnel from the convoy proceeded to Damascus International Airport, including the four wounded people.
Syria has been wracked by violence, with at least 20,000 people, mostly civilians, killed since the uprising against President Bashar al-Assad began some 20 months ago. The violence has spawned more than 440,000 refugees, while more than 2.5 million people are in need of humanitarian assistance, according to UN estimates.