BEIRUT

Middle East

Canada probes disappearance of U.N. Golan observer

Soldiers of the UNDOF stand on an observation tower overlooking Syria in the Golan Heights.

OTTAWA: Canada was investigating Tuesday after an Israeli newspaper reported that a UN staffer who went missing in the Golan Heights was Canadian, the foreign ministry said.

On Tuesday the Times of Israel said the missing person was a Canadian lawyer working for the UN Disengagement Force (UNDOF) patrolling the Israel-Syria ceasefire reached after the 1973 Arab-Israeli war.

Canada was searching for more information from all sources and was in contact with the United Nations, a foreign ministry spokesman told AFP.

The United Nations on Monday announced that one of its UNDOF employees had gone missing between Israel and Syria, without specifying whether the individual was a peacekeeper or a civilian worker.

It has repeatedly complained to the Syrian government about spillover from the country's civil war into the zone where over 1,000 troops from Austria, Croatia, India and the Philippines are operating.

Five UNDOF peacekeepers were wounded last year when traveling in a convoy taking them to Damascus airport for a flight.

The United Nations has also complained about Syrian government forces firing into the Golan zone and about the presence of opposition rebels there.

The UN force was established in 1974 to monitor a withdrawal by Israeli and Syrian forces from the zone. Israel captured the Golan Heights from Syria in 1967 and later annexed it in a move not recognized internationally.

Syria has long demanded the return of the entire strategic plateau as a condition for any future peace agreement with the Jewish state.

 

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