On 6 October 1973, war erupted in the Middle East between Egyptian and Israeli forces in the Suez Canal area and the Sinai, and between Israeli and Syrian forces in the Golan Heights. On 24 October, as fighting between Egypt and Israel reached a critical stage, the Security Council decided to set up a second United Nations Emergency Force II (UNEF II)
. The Force was immediately moved into place between the Israeli and Egyptian armies in the Suez Canal area, and its arrival effectively stabilized the situation. However, no new peacekeeping operation at that time was established on the Syrian front.
In the Israel-Syria sector tension remained high, and from March 1974 the situation became increasingly unstable. Against this background, the United States undertook a diplomatic initiative, which resulted in the conclusion of an Agreement on Disengagement between Israeli and Syrian forces [S/11302/Add.1, annexes I and II]
. The Agreement provided for an area of separation and for two equal zones of limited forces and armaments on both sides of the area, and called for the establishment of a United Nations observer force to supervise its implementation.
The Agreement was signed on 31 May 1974 and, on the same day, the Security Council adopted resolution 350 (1974)
by which it set up the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF).
Map of the Area of Separation (AOS)
On 3 June 1974, the Secretary-General appointed an interim commander of UNDOF who arrived in Damascus that very day and immediately established a provisional headquarters in the premises of the Israel-Syria Mixed Armistice Commission, overseeing more than 90 UNTSO observers now detailed to UNDOF.
Later the same day, advance parties of the Austrian and Peruvian contingents arrived in the mission area. They were joined on the following days by the remainder of the two contingents and the Canadian and Polish logistic elements. Some logistic support was provided by UNEF II
By 16 June 1974, the strength of UNDOF was brought to 1,218 all ranks, near its authorized level of 1,250. The Force has since performed its functions effectively, with the cooperation of the parties.