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Japanese troops to leave Golan Heights

Dec. 10, 2012 at 3:12 PM

TOKYO, Dec. 10 (UPI) -- Japan will soon begin the withdrawal of its Self-Defense Force members in the Golan Heights between Israel and Syria, government sources said.

The troops, which now total 47 in the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force monitoring the cease-fire, will leave because it has become difficult to secure their safety, the Tokyo newspaper Yomiuri Shimbun reported Monday.

Considering the erosion of security, Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda, Foreign Minister Koichiro Gemba and Defense Minister Satoshi Morimoto concluded it would be difficult to ensure the troops' safety, and will make a final decision after Japan's Dec. 16 House of Representatives election, government sources said.

Japan has had personnel in the Golan Heights since 1996, but the civil war in Syria had led to a deteriorating security situation, the newspaper said.

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