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UN Rejects Russian Offer of Peacekeepers for Golan Heights

The United Nations on Friday thanked Russia for offering to replace peacekeepers from Austria along the border of Syria and Israel but said such a substitution is not possible.

President Vladimir Putin offered to send Russian troops to the Golan Heights after Austria decided to withdraw its 377 soldiers from the U.N. peacekeeping force because of growing spillover from the Syria conflict.

But U.N. spokesman Martin Nesirky said Russia was banned from taking part in the force because it is one of five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council.

The departure of the Austrians from the region is the latest blow to monitoring force.

Nesirky said a meeting was under way between U.N. officials who are meeting with countries that contribute troops to the U.N. to find a member state willing to offer monitors to replace the Austrians, who make up a third of the force.

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