The United Nations Security Council (UNSC) Wednesday extended until June 30, 2013 the mandate of the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF), which monitors the ceasefire in the Golan Heights between Israel and Syria, and expressed grave concern at recent violations by the Syrian Armed Forces in the mission's area of operations.
In a unanimously adopted resolution, the 15-member body stressed the obligation on both parties to scrupulously and fully respect the terms of the 1974 Disengagement of Forces Agreement.
The Council also "calls on the parties to exercise maximum restraint and prevent any breaches of the ceasefire and the area of separation, and underscores that there should be no military activity of any kind in the area of separation, including military operations by the Syrian Arab Armed Forces."
In his latest report on UNDOF, covering the period from July 1 to Dec 31, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon voiced his deep concern about the evolution of the conflict in Syria, its impact on the Syrian population and its potential implications for the entire region.
"It is affecting the UNDOF area of operations significantly," he stated. "The presence of Syrian Arab armed forces and unauthorized military equipment in the area of separation is a grave violation of the 1974 Disengagement of Forces Agreement between Israeli and Syrian forces."
Noting that the military operations carried out by the Syrian armed forces have adversely affected UNDOF's efforts to effectively carry out its mandated tasks, he called on the Syrian authorities to cease these activities in the UNDOF area of operations.
"Recent incidents across the ceasefire line have shown the potential for escalation of tensions between Israel and the Syrian Arab Republic, and jeopardize the ceasefire between the two countries and the stability of the region," Ban added.
At least 20,000 people, mostly civilians, have been killed in Syria since the uprising against President Bashar al-Assad began in March 2011.
The conflict, now in its 22nd month, has spawned more than 500,000 refugees, while an estimated four million people inside the country need urgent humanitarian assistance.