UN asks Austria to delay full troop withdrawal from Golan Heights until the end of July

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The U.N. peacekeeping department is asking Austria to ensure that its withdrawal of peacekeepers from the Golan Heights isn't completed until at least the end of July to ensure a smooth transition with incoming troops.

Austria announced it would pull out its 377 peacekeepers from the 911-member U.N. force after fighting from the Syrian civil war threatened their positions last week. The first contingent, of between 60 and 80 troops, left on Wednesday.

U.N. spokesman Martin Nesirky told reporters Thursday that the peacekeeping department also asked Austria to leave its equipment "which is essential to support the remaining and incoming peacekeepers."

The U.N. force was established in 1974 to monitor the disengagement of Israeli and Syrian forces in the Golan Heights following the 1973 Arab-Israeli war.