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Austria pulls out of peacekeeping, as Syrian fight erupts at Israel’s door

A Filipino peacekeeper was injured in a Thursday skirmish that ignited between Syrian rebel and government fighters in a small border town near Israel, prompting Austria to withdraw its troops from the UNDOF.

The United Nations Disengagement Observer Force was established in the mid-1970s to monitor cease-fire agreements between Israeli and Syrian forces in the Golan Heights region. Austria said specifically it was taking out its troops from the UNDOF force that was active in the area, Ynet News reported.

Ynet News also reported that Israel has also lodged a complaint with the United Nations over the wounded peacekeeper.

Austria provided 380 of the 1,000 peacekeepers in UNDOF. Their withdrawal ratchets up concerns significantly for Israel's ongoing security, military experts said.

"Freedom of movement in the area de facto no longer exists," Austrian Chancellor Werner Faymann and his deputy Michael Spindelegger said in a joint statement, reported by Ynet News. "The uncontrolled and immediate danger to Austrian soldiers has risen to an unacceptable level."

Austrian ministers are now working with the United Nations to try and remove Austrian troops from the region in a safe manner, Ynet News said.

Meanwhile, escalating fighting in the region — and the reported presence of Syrian tanks and heavy artillery in the Golan — has led Israel to file a complaint with the United Nations, calling Syria's recent activities a clear violation of their cease-fire deal, Ynet News reported.

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