Austrian UN troops begin pullout from Golan Heights

QUNEITRA CROSSING, Golan Heights (AFP) - Austrian troops in the UN monitoring force on the Golan Heights began withdrawing on Wednesday, days after Vienna decided to quit the mission over security concerns, an AFP photographer said.

A group of 20 soldiers entered the Israeli side of the strategic plateau through the Quneitra Crossing, the only direct passage between Israel and Syria, the photographer said.

The troops arrived in jeeps accompanied by armoured vehicles before crossing through Syrian and Israeli controls.

About 50 other soldiers of the 378-strong Austrian contingent were to be withdrawn during the day, sources on the ground said.