UNITED NATIONS - The UN Security Council has voiced “grave concern” at the presence of the Syrian and opposition troops inside the demilitarised area of the Golan Heights that peacekeepers have been monitoring since 1974, calling on both sides to respect the blue helmets’ freedom of movement and security. UN peacekeepers are in the area to monitor the 1974 disengagement accord agreed upon by Syria and Israel after their 1973 war.

“The members of the Security Council expressed their deep concern at the risk that all military activities in the area of separation conducted by any actor pose to the long-held ceasefire and the local population,” according to a statement read out by Ambassador Vitaly Churkin of Russia, which holds the rotating Council presidency for the month of March.

Churkin said that the 15-member Council “also underscored the increased risk the situation poses to United Nations personnel on the ground” including the firing on UN personnel and facilities, carjacking of UN vehicles and the detention of the 21 military personnel from the UN Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF).