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Putin Says Russia Can Replace Austria In UN Golan Mission

Russian President Vladimir Putin says his country is prepared to replace Austrian peacekeepers in the Golan Heights, following Vienna's announcement that it was withdrawing its UN contingent from the region.

Putin made the remark during a televised meeting with Russian officers in Moscow.

The Austrian government said it would pull out its peacekeepers because of escalating violence between Syrian government forces and rebels on the border.

Austrian peacekeepers account for more than one-third of the 1,000-strong UN force observing a four-decade-old ceasefire between Syria and Israel.

The UN Security Council was due to meet on June 7 to discuss the Austrian withdrawal.

On June 6, Syrian rebels briefly overran the Quneitra crossing in the Golan Heights between Israel and Syria, forcing Austrian peacekeepers to leave the location.

Based on reporting by Reuters and dpa