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Japanese, other U.N. monitors in Golan Heights to get chemical weapons kits

United Nations AFP-JIJI

The United Nations is sending chemical weapons kits to U.N. troops in the Golan Heights because of growing fears over Syria’s deadly unconventional arsenal, officials said Monday.

U.N. peacekeeping chief Herve Ladsous briefed the U.N. Security Council on efforts to bolster the safety of the U.N. force, which monitors a ceasefire zone between Syria and Israel, after five troops were injured in attacks.

There are about 1,000 unarmed troops from Austria, Croatia, India, Japan and the Philippines in UNDOF. The Indian troops, at least, are known not to have chemical weapon protection. “We have taken measures to enhance security,” Ladsous told reporters after the Security Council meeting. “For those personnel who are not equipped on a national basis, we are sending them some kits to protect them from chemical attack, if that were to happen.”

Extra armored cars have also been sent from other missions to the U.N. Disengagement Observer Force, which has been monitoring a ceasefire between Israel and Syria since 1974.

There are about 1,000 unarmed troops from Austria, Croatia, India, Japan and the Philippines in UNDOF. The Indian troops, at least, are known not to have chemical weapon protection.

Five Austrians were wounded, two seriously, when a convoy taking U.S. troops from the Golan Heights to Damascus Airport came under attack earlier this month. There have been a number of incidents in the ceasefire zone this year.

The U.S. said earlier this month that it had intelligence showing Syria was considering using its chemical weapons. U.S. President Barack Obama led international warnings to President Bashar Assad over the arsenal.