United Nations: United Nations secretary general Ban Ki-moon has commended India’s Lt Gen Iqbal Singh Singha on the completion of his assignment as the force commander of the UN mission in the Golan (Levant), acknowledging his “dedicated leadership” during an attack by Al-Qaeda-linked armed groups last year.
Singha completed his assignment on January 2 as head of mission and force commander of the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF).
He will be succeeded by Nepalese Major Gen Purna Chandra Thapa, 54, who studied philosophy at the University of Madras and graduated from the National Defence College in New Delhi.
“The secretary general is grateful to Lt Gen Singha for his dedicated leadership during a particularly difficult period in the mission’s history,” Ban’s deputy spokesperson Farhan Haq told reporters here on Monday.
Forty-five Fijian peacekeepers, serving UNDOF, monitoring a ceasefire established in 1974 between Israel and Syria, were detained on August 28 last year by armed elements of the Syrian opposition in the vicinity of Al Qunaytirah.
The Syrian rebels, including fighters from the Al-Qaeda affiliate Al-Nusra Front, stormed the crossing Al Qunaytirah, sparking an exchange of gunfire with Israeli troops.
In a separate incident, 72 Filipino peacekeepers had been surrounded by armed elements at two locations in the Golan and were later safely relocated.
Singha came under criticism by the Philippine military which said he should be investigated for allegedly asking Filipino troops to surrender to the Syrian rebels who had attacked and surrounded their camp.
However, United Nations peacekeeping operations head Herve Ladsous had commended Singha for his “strong leadership” and “good and sound judgement” during the crisis.
Ladsous had said the Indian military official “displayed very strong professionalism and very strong leadership in making decisions all along” that helped.
“And he is utterly to be commended and I place on record my full trust in the way he performed his duty,” he had said.