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UNSC "strongly condemns" detention of UNDOF peacekeepers.

| UNITED NATIONS, March 6 (KUNA) -- The Security Council on Wednesday "strongly condemned" the detention earlier today by armed elements of the Syrian opposition of more than 20 peacekeepers of the UN Disengagement Observation Force (UNDOF) between Syria and Israel, and demanded their "unconditional release." In a press statement, Council President Ambassador Vitaly Churkin of Russia said the Council demanded their "immediate and unconditional" release and called on all parties to cooperate with UNDOF in good faith to enable it to operate freely and to ensure full security and safety of its personnel.

He also said that the Council reaffirmed its "unconditional support" for UNDOF.

He added that Under Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Herve Ladsous briefed the Council on the incident and the Council consequently decided, at Russia's request, to issue the press statement.

He urged the UN Secretariat to look into the incident because the security and safety of UNDOF personnel have "clearly been endangered by recent developments," especially in this case where the Syrian opposition has put conditions for Damascus to fulfill before the peacekeepers are released. Churkin urged "whoever has influence" on the armed group to "immediately tell themthat they should stop this very dangerous course of action." He said this group has "gross disrespect for the UN and international norms of behaviour." He accused "some people of trying very hard in order to extend the geography of the Syrian conflict." UN officials told KUNA that the incident was discussed earlier today between Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and visiting Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak. They also discussed the Middle East issue and Iran.

In a related matter, Syrian Ambassador Bashar Ja'afari wrote a letter to Ban and to Churkin accusing Turkey of interfering in his country's internal affairs and of assisting terrorist groups with weapons and other means.

He said Turkey allowed a Libyan ship loaded with 400 tons of weapons and with 250 Libyan terrorists on board to enter its ports two months ago.

He said the Turkish territory has become a center for the accumulation, transfer, support and finance of terrorism and terrorists from Al-Qaida to work inside Syria with the knowledge and supervision of the Turkish Government.

He complained that the Council's inaction contributes to the perpetuity of the Syrian crisis, urging the members to condemn the Turkish Government and other states which support the terrorists, and insisted that the Turkish behaviour is considered an aggression against Syria.

He said a Council firm position will oblige the opposition to sit at the negotiating table with Syrian Government representatives to solve the crisis through Syrian-led negotiations. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Wednesday condemned the detention of 21 United Nations Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF) peacekeepers by armed elements in the vicinity of Al Jamla in the area of limitation and called for their immediate release.

"The Secretary-General reminds all actors in Syria that UNDOF is mandated to monitor the Disengagement of Forces Agreement between Israel and Syria. UNDOF's freedom of movement and safety and security must be respected by all parties," Ban's press office said in a statement. The Syrian armed groups are accused of carrying out the incident, prompting Russia, the Security Council President, to issue a similar statement earlier in the day. (end).

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Publication:Kuwait News Agency (KUNA)
Geographic Code:4EXRU
Date:Mar 6, 2013
Words:556
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