Syrian rebels seize border crossing in region where Irish soldiers will be deployed

Barry Kavanagh from Dublin during a training exercise in Wicklow yesterday. Picture: Collins

Syrian rebels backed by al-qaida have seized a border crossing in a region where 130 Irish troops will be deployed next month.

The Al Nusra Front last night captured the checkpoint at the Israeli border in the volatile Golan Heights.

It has raised concerns about the safety of the UN observer mission to the region, which will be heavily staffed by the Irish Defence Forces.

Retired Lieutenant Colonel who served in Syria Kieran McDaid said Irish troops were unlikely to be in any confrontation with the rebels.

"The core mandate of the mission that is there is to oversee this area of separation between Israel and Syria," he said.

"These armed elements that have inserted themselves into the situation are not within the operation's mandate, but clearly they affect the stability of the situation in the area of operation."

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