Austria urges EU to maintain Syrian arms embargo, may withdraw UN peacekeepers otherwise

Austria is urging an extension of the EU arms embargo for Syria, saying it may rethink its U.N. peacekeeping role in the region otherwise.

Austria's 377 soldiers make up the largest continent of the approximately 900 U.N. peacekeepers posted to the Golan Heights separating Syria and Israel. Foreign Minister Michael Spindelegger said Friday they could be targeted by Syrian government forces if EU foreign ministers meeting in Brussels Monday decide to allow members to ship arms to rebels.

France and Britain are the main EU proponents of arming the rebels.

Austria argues that if that happened, Syria would no longer view its peacekeepers as neutral because of the country's EU membership.

Lifting the EU embargo "would give us real problems on the Golan Heights," says Spindelegger.