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Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 18 October 2018

Irish troops trapped in Syria due to paperwork blunder

The 119 peacekeepers were registered under the wrong UN mission

Soldiers form the Italian contingent in the UNIFIL patrol the blue line in Lebanon's southern border town of Naqura on the border with Israel, south of Beirut, on February 24, 2018./ AFP PHOTO / JOSEPH EID
Soldiers form the Italian contingent in the UNIFIL patrol the blue line in Lebanon's southern border town of Naqura on the border with Israel, south of Beirut, on February 24, 2018./ AFP PHOTO / JOSEPH EID

More than 100 Irish soldiers have been left trapped in Syria following an administrative error.

One hundred and nineteen personnel from the Irish Defence Forces were serving in Syria as part of a UN Peace keeping mission, they had been scheduled to fly home earlier this week, but were prevented from doing so.

A source told The Irish Mirror that the soldiers had been registered on the wrong UN mission.

“The troops attached to the 57th Infantry Group coming out of Syria were placed on paperwork as being part of the Lebanese peacekeeping mission UNIFIL when in fact they were UNDOF, the Golan Heights mission,” the source said.

The source added, “The troops in Ireland cannot fly out until they get clearance so then they are stuck in limbo until that happens – officials are in touch with Lebanese authorities to free this up.”

“Families are not happy as they have been waiting to get these troops home.”

The soldiers were due to return on Monday but Irish officials now say they hope they will be able to return home by October 16th.

The delay has also affected the new contingent scheduled to replace the group.

Nuala Walsh, the wife of one of the soldiers delayed coming home said the delay had been like “cancelling Christmas”.

The Irish government said they would be given compensation of €1000 (DH 4200) each, as well as being paid for the extra time served.

There are more than 600 Irish soldiers serving with UNIFIL, the UN peacekeeping mission that followed Israeli withdrawal from Lebanon in 1978.

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