Syria

United Nations Disengagement Observer Force - Report of the Secretary-General (S/2019/248) [EN/AR]

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I. Introduction

1. The present report provides an account of the activities of the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF) for the period from 21 November 2018 to 14 March 2019, pursuant to the mandate set out in Security Council resolution 350 (1974) and extended in subsequent Council resolutions, most recently resolution 2450 (2018).

II. Situation in the area of operations and activities of the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force

2. During the reporting period, the ceasefire between Israel and the Syrian Arab Republic was maintained notwithstanding a number of violations of the Agreement on Disengagement between Israeli and Syrian Forces (Disengagement of Forces Agreement) of 1974, which are set out below. After the cessation of fighting in August 2018 between the Syrian armed forces and various non-State armed groups, the Government of the Syrian Arab Republic regained control of parts of the areas of separation and limitation on the Bravo side that had previously been under the control of the armed groups. There was increased military activity across the ceasefire line, including the firing of missiles. As underscored again by the Security Council in its resolution 2450 (2018), there should be no military activity of any kind in the area of separation.

3. In employing its best efforts to maintain the ceasefire and see that it is scrupulously observed, as prescribed in the Disengagement of Forces Agreement, UNDOF reports all breaches of the ceasefire line that it observes. All incidents of firing into the area of separation and across the ceasefire line, as well as the crossing of the ceasefire line by individuals, are violations of the Agreement. In its regular interaction with both sides, the leadership of UNDOF continued to call upon both parties to exercise restraint and prevent any miscalculation that might lead to an escalation of the situation.

4. During the reporting period, there were several breaches of the ceasefire line by the parties to the Disengagement of Forces Agreement. UNDOF observed, on several occasions, firing into the areas of separation and limitation on the Bravo side. On 29 November 2018, UNDOF personnel observed heavy explosions and tracer rounds of heavy and anti-aircraft machine guns in the vicinities of Turunjah, in the area of separation, and Camp Faouar. UNDOF personnel were forced to go into shelters. The Syrian authorities informed UNDOF that the military activity was associated with air defence weapons of the Syrian armed forces directed at “hostile targets”. The Israel Defense Forces informed UNDOF that they “had not engaged any targets in the Syrian Arab Republic” and that the remnants of a Syrian anti-aircraft missile had impacted an area 5 km from Camp Ziouani. An UNDOF team, accompanied by the Israel Defense Forces, visited the scene of the impact on the Alpha side (Israeli-occupied Golan) and saw remnants of an anti-aircraft missile. On 2 December, the Permanent Representative of Israel to the United Nations sent identical letters to the Secretary-General and the President of the Security Council in which he reported that, on 29 November, the armed forces of the Government of the Syrian Arab Republic had “indiscriminately and abruptly fired a barrage of anti-aircraft missiles across a range of at least 60 kilometres”.