Belfast Telegraph

Shells land near Irish UN troops

Irish troops serving in Syria were 200 metres from a firefight between Government and anti-government forces.

The 39 soldiers were escorting a UN convoy when they were caught in cross fire, with more than a dozen artillery rounds landing near their convoy.

The Defence Forces confirmed the peacekeepers, mostly from Dublin's Cathal Brugha Barracks, and 24 other UN soldiers were travelling in ten armoured vehicles when the incident happened about 9am.

As they passed near the village of Durbol approximately three artillery rounds landed some 200m from the convoy.

The convoy continued for a short time, but decided to return to base in the Golan Heights when more fighting broke out.

Defences Forces spokesman, Cmdt Denis Hanly, said while travelling back to Camp Faouar another ten artillery rounds landed about 200m from the vehicles.

The patrol and all vehicles returned to base safely at 11.30am.

"There were no injuries, no damage to vehicles and all personnel were debriefed," he said.

The troops are among 119 Irish peacekeepers serving in Syria.

Cmdt Hanly said while there have been similar skirmishes since the Irish troops were deployed in September, this is the most serious incident so far.

"This is the reality of modern peacekeeping and something the Irish Defence Forces are trained and equipped to deal with," he added.

"The patrol operated and reacted in a highly professional manner at all times, doing the job they are there to do."

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