Manila : A Filipino general will assume command of the 1,050-strong United Nations force enforcing a ceasefire between Syria and Israel in the Golan Heights next month, Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) Secretary Alberto Romulo announced.
Romulo said Marine Major General Natalio Ecarma III will assume his duties next month as chief of the UN Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF) in the Golan Heights, a strategic high ground straddling both Syria and Israel.
Ecarma was formally appointed last Monday by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.
"The Philippines is honoured to have been given the responsibility of helping oversee the peace in that part of the Middle East," Romulo said after he was informed by Ambassador Hilario Davide, Philippine Permanent Representative to the United Nations, of Ecarma's appointment.Ecarma will take over from Major General Wolfgang Jilke of Austria and will head what is considered to be one of the more established UN peacekeeping operations, composed of 1,050 troops from Austria, Canada, Croatia, India, Japan and the Philippines.
Aside from the multi-national troops, Ecarma will have under his command 75 military observers, 39 international staff and 105 local civilians.
Established by the Security Council at the end of the Arab-Israeli War in 1973, UNDOF was tasked to maintain a ceasefire and supervise the disengagement of Israeli and Syrian forces and the so-called Areas of Separation and Limitation between the two parties.
The announcement that a Filipino will assume the command of the multi-national peacekeeping force in Golan Heights came three months after the Philippines deployed a 336-member infantry battalion to the disputed area.