Belfast Telegraph

Irish army soldiers unhurt in Golan Heights strike

By Michael Sheils McNamee

Two soldiers from Northern Ireland are among an Irish Defence Forces deployment confirmed safe following the bombardment of the Golan Heights region.

The Irish Defence Forces confirmed the soldiers, from Co Down and Co Antrim, were among its deployment of 130. Neither were harmed.

Yesterday the Israeli military reported that Iranian forces had fired 20 rockets across the border at its front line installations.

Israel responded with jet strikes against "dozens" of Iranian military installations in Syria.

Irish troops in the 57th Infantry Group have been part of the UNDOF - which serves in the buffer zone between Israeli and Syrian forces in the region - since 2013.

Responsibilities of the deployment include armoured force protection; patrolling and mobility; surveillance; communications; medical, and operational expertise.

Writing on Twitter, head of the Irish Defence Forces Mark Mellett said it would continue to monitor the situation in the region and its priority "is always the safety and security of our personnel".

Britain condemned the attack on the occupied Golan Heights by Iranian forces based in Syria, and said Israel had every right to defend itself.

Downing Street called for calm on both sides and urged Tehran to refrain from further assaults.

Number 10 also urged Russia to use its influence in Syria to rein in Iranian aggression.

Speaking about the retaliation, Israeli defence minister Avigdor Lieberman said the Israeli Defence Forces had "hit almost all of the Iranian infrastructure in Syria".

But he insisted Israel had "no interest in escalation" of the situation.

He added: "I hope that we have finished this chapter and that everyone got the message."

Prime Minister Theresa May's official spokesman said: "We condemn Iran's attack on Israel. Israel has every right to defend itself.

"We call on Iran to refrain from any further attacks and for calm on all sides.

"We call on Russia to use its influence in Syria to prevent further Iranian attacks."

There are no reports of Israeli casualties in the rocket strikes.

The Israeli military said its Iron Dome defence system intercepted some of the incoming projectiles, while others caused only minimal damage.

The Golan Heights is situated in south-western Syria, and has been under the control of Israel since the Six Day War in 1967.

Belfast Telegraph

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