UNDOF peacekeepers in Golan Heights
UNDOF peacekeepers in Golan HeightsFlash 90

UN peacekeepers have carried out a first patrol since 2014 to a key crossing point between the Syrian and Israeli-controlled Golan Heights after liaising with Russia, Israel and Syria, a UN spokesman said Friday, according to AFP.

Thursday's patrol at the Quneitra crossing point was the first since the UN Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF) withdrew in 2014 after Al-Qaeda-linked rebels overran the area.

Syrian government forces, backed by Russia, have in past weeks recaptured territory near the Golan Heights, driving out rebel groups from a "de-escalation zone" agreed by Jordan, Russia and the United States.

The "patrol to the Quneitra crossing point is part of UNDOF's ongoing efforts to return incrementally to the area of separation," said UN spokesman Farhan Haq.

He said the mission liaised with both the Syrian Arab Armed Forces and Israel's Defense Forces ahead of the patrol.

Syrian troops and Russian military police also carried out "simultaneous" patrols of the area, said Haq.

After the Russian army said Thursday it planned to deploy eight military observation posts in the Golan, the UN spokesman said any Russian military presence would be "separate and distinct from that of UNDOF."

The United Nations is aiming for the full return of UNDOF to the Syrian side. Currently, more than half of UNDOF's 978 troops are deployed on the so-called Bravo (Syrian) side.

UNDOF has carried out more than 30 patrols in the northern and central parts of the area of separation since it resumed its activities on the Syrian side in February.

In late August of 2014, rebels on the Syrian side including Al-Qaeda affiliate Al-Nusra Front kidnapped more than 40 Fijian UNDOF troops and released them unharmed two weeks later.

The fighters also clashed with 75 Filipino members of the force, who eventually fled a nearby outpost in a worrying sign of spillover from Syria's war and were recalled back to their home country.

The rebel forces at the time seized UN weapons, equipment and uniforms in a campaign that saw the Syrian Golan Heights fall completely into their hands.

The UN peacekeepers first began returning to the area in 2016.

Established in 1974, UNDOF monitors a ceasefire line that has separated Israelis from Syrians in the Golan Heights.

(Arutz Sheva’s North American desk is keeping you updated until the start of Shabbat in New York. The time posted automatically on all Arutz Sheva articles, however, is Israeli time.)