Austria: If EU Arms Syrian Rebels, We’ll Withdraw From UN Mission

Fears Ceasefire Monitors Would Lose Neutrality

Austria has been one of the most outspoken opponents of the British/French plan to scrap the EU arms embargo on Syria, and is now openly threatening to withdraw from the UN ceasefire monitoring team in the Golan Heights if the plan passes.

It isn’t just a theoretical concern for Austrian DM Gerald Klug, who cautions that if the EU starts openly arming the Syrian rebels his troops, by virtue of being from an EU member nation, would lose their neutrality and be at serious risk if they remained in southern Syria.

The UN has been struggling to find troops for the ceasefire monitoring mission, which began in 1974, charged with making sure neither Syria nor Israel strays across the ceasefire border.

A Syrian rebel faction calling itself the Yarmouk Martrys’ Brigade has twice kidnapped members of the monitoring force in the past few months, nominally “for their own safety.” In both cases the troops were eventually released but it underscores the danger of the mission as Syria’s civil war grows, and if Philippines troops can be captured for seemingly no reason, Austrian troops would surely be at risk if they were seen as openly arming some rebel factions.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is senior editor of