Syria violating agreement with Israel, Ban tells U.N. Security Council

JERUSALEM (JTA) — The Syrian government is violating a 1974 disengagement agreement with Israel, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said.

Syria is deploying military equipment and troops over the cease-fire line on the Golan Heights, Ban said in a report delivered Monday to the Security Council, and the violations could escalate Israel-Syria tensions and jeopardize the agreement.

“I am concerned that the presence of armed members of the opposition and the ongoing military activities of the Syrian security forces have the potential to ignite a larger conflict between Israel and the Syrian Arab Republic with grave consequences,” Ban said, according to The Associated Press. “There should be no military activity of any kind in the area of separation.”

Ban recommended a six-month extension of the U.N. peacekeeping force in the Golan Heights, through June 30.

The U.N. Disengagement Observer Force, made up of more than 1,000 troops, was established in 1974, a year after the Yom Kippur War.

Israel captured the Golan Heights from Syria in 1967. Syria has called for the Golan to be returned in exchange for peace, but broke off indirect peace talks four years ago.

Since the start of the current civil unrest in Syria, mortar shells and gunfire from Syrian rebels on the border have crossed into Israel, hitting at least one military vehicle. Israel has responded to some of the attacks and has filed complaints with U.N. forces in the area.

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