The 40-year-old United Nations Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF) has left Syria. Not because of war between Israel and Syria, which was their mission to prevent, but rather because of war between Syria and Syria.
Established in 1974, following the end of the Yom Kippur War, UNDOF has been monitoring the Golan Heights and the borders between Israel and Syria with, more or less, pretty reasonable success over years.
But as we noted last week, the three-year-old Syria civil war has changed the calculus. Following a two-week ordeal, dozens of peacekeepers were released on Thursday after being held by the al-Nusra Front, another Islamist terrorist group operating in Syria. The group, ironically enough, captured the peacekeepers in a bid to be delisted as an international terrorist organizations. Unsurprisingly, that didn't work.
As Reuters reported, the kidnapping wasn't the first trouble the mission had encountered:
The decision to pull some blue-helmeted troops back to the Israeli side of the Golan Heights comes after recent clashes between members of the U.N. mission, known as UNDOF, and al-Qaeda-linked militants. The skirmishes have been due to increasing spillover from the three-year-old Syrian civil war.
The force says it will continue to carry out its mission on the Israeli side of the border.