Austrian UN troops to begin Golan pullout soon

VIENNA (AP) — An official says Austria will begin withdrawing its 377 U.N. peacekeepers from the Golan Heights on Wednesday.

The Austrian Defense Ministry official says the first contingent to return home will be support staff, meaning the observation posts normally staffed by Austrian troops will continue to be manned for now.

The official spoke on condition of anonymity Monday, saying his information is not officially authorized to be made public. He did not say how many peacekeepers would be withdrawn Wednesday.

Austria announced last week that it would remove its peacekeepers from the 911-member U.N. force after Syrian fighting spilled over into a nearby border position.

The force also includes 341 Philippine soldiers and 193 from India.

Croatia withdrew in March amid fears its troops would be targeted.

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