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Fearing Syrian reprisal, Croatia orders pullout of its peacekeepers from Syria-Israel border

Croatia's parliament has approved the withdrawal of some 100 peacekeeping troops from the Golan Heights amid fears they could be targeted by Syrian government troops fighting the rebels.

Croatian Defense Minister Ante Kotromanovic said Wednesday the pullout will start "very soon" but refused to specify the date for security reasons.

The withdrawal, which had been proposed by the country's president, follows reports claiming that Syrian rebels trying to topple Bashar Assad have been armed with Croatian weapons — including machine guns, rifles and anti-tank grenades — in an operation approved by the United States and sponsored by some Arab countries.

Croatian officials have denied the reports and said they have jeopardized the safety of Croatian soldiers serving in the U.N. Disengagement Force on the Syria-Israel border.