Israel complains to U.N. about Syria troops straying out of bounds

Israel has accused Syrian security forces of straying into an Israeli-occupied slice of Syria that is patrolled by U.N. peacekeepers to maintain a ceasefire between the neighboring countries.

In a letter to U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon and the U.N. Security Council, Israel’s U.N. Ambassador Haim Waxman said Syrian soldiers crossed into the Golan Heights area on Thursday amid fighting between Syrian security forces and opposition groups on Thursday.

The 155-square-mile Golan Heights is a so-called “area of separation” where Syrian military forces are not allowed under a 1974 ceasefire deal. Israel and Syria are still formally at war.

“Their action represents a blatant violation of this agreement, with potentially far-reaching implications for the security and stability of the region,” Waxman wrote.

Israel and Syria’s other neighbors are increasingly fearful Syria’s internal conflict could tear through an already unstable region.

Ban said on Sunday that almost 17,000 people had been killed during the 16-month-old uprising that began as peaceful pro-democracy protests and turned into an armed revolt against four decades of rule by President Bashar Assad’s family.

Reporting by Michelle Nichols; Editing by Bill Trott