UNITED NATIONS, June 6 (Xinhua) -- The UN Security Council on Thursday voiced its strong condemnation of the intense fighting in the separation area between Israel and Syria, including the attack leading to injuries of two UN peacekeepers on the Golan Heights.
"The members of the Security Council strongly condemned intense fighting in the Area of Separation, including the attack which led to injuries suffered by two UNDOF peacekeepers on June 6," the 15-nation UN body said in a press statement.
UNDOF stands for the UN Disengagement Observer Force, which monitors the 1974 disengagement accord between Syria and Israel after their 1973 war.
"The members of the Security Council urged full respect of the disengagement agreement of 31 May 1974," the statement said.
Since last November, UNDOF has seen its peacekeepers being seized by armed groups, its observation posts attacked and looted, and its freedom of movement curtailed.
"The members of the Security Council called upon all parties to fully cooperate with UNDOF in good faith to enable it to operate freely and to ensure full security of its personnel," said the statement.
"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," it said.
The members "also noted with grave concern that there have been a number of incidents threatening the safety and security of UN personnel in recent months and underscored they would continue to monitor the situation closely," said the statement.
UNDOF has faced a number of security risks and operational challenges in recent months amid the escalating conflict in Syria, which have led to an Austrian decision to pull its troops from UNDOF.
Earlier on Thursday, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said he regretted such a decision by Austria.
"Austria has been a backbone of the mission and their withdrawal will affect the mission's operational capacity," UN spokesman Martin Nesirky told reporters in New York on Thursday. "We are in discussions with them about the timing of the withdrawal, and with other troop-contributing countries to provide replacement troops."
Austria is one of three countries -- along with India and the Philippines -- that contribute military personnel to UNDOF. It reportedly cited a lack of freedom of movement and an unacceptable level of danger to its soldiers in deciding to withdraw.
"The members of the Security Council reaffirmed their unconditional support for UNDOF and expressed their deepest gratitude to UNDOF personnel and to troop-contributing countries, including the United Nations Truce Supervision Organization's (UNTSO) Observer Group Golan," the statement said.
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