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Operation Omega, Search and Recovery of Israeli Dead, Proceeding Slowly

Operation Omega, the search and recovery of the bodies of soldiers killed in the Yom Kippur War “has progressed slowly” because “delays were encountered, particularly at the local commander level,” Secretary General Kurt Waldheim said in a report released here today on the operations of the United Nations Emergency Force (UNEF) oh the Suez Canal front.

“According to UNEF records, 27 bodies have been returned to the Egyptian authorities and 21 to the Israelis since Jan. 28.” Waldheim’s report said. He said the search and recovery operation was expected to be expedited as a result of a series of meetings between the parties in the presence of the International Committee of the Red Cross and UNEF representatives.

DISENGAGEMENT PROCEEDING SMOOTHLY

Waldheim reported further that the disengagement of forces which began Jan. 25 “has progressed smoothly and, as indicated in the reports on the status of the cease-fire, no incidents of major significance have occurred.” He noted that yesterday (Feb. 4) UNEF units began to move into an area further north of the Suez-Cairo road “where they have taken up positions and started patrolling in a buffer area approximately 35 kilometers long and three kilometers deep. On Feb. 4 at 1400 hours a further area south of the Little Bitter Lake was handed over to UNEF by Israeli forces; the same area will be turned over by UNEF to the Egyptian forces on Feb. 5 at 0400 hours,” the Secretary General reported.

He reported that “On the east bank of the Suez Canal, Egyptian and Israeli forces commenced their redeployment on Jan. 28″ and on that day UNEF began to interpose troops in the southernmost sector of what will be the Sinai buffer zone. Waldheim noted that today the UNEF “with the assistance of the UNTSO military observers and in the presence of the respective Egyptian and Israeli liaison officers, will inspect and verify the Egyptian and Israeli redeployment in the southernmost sector of the areas of limited armament and forces.”

The findings, as per previous agreement by the parties, will be made available to them but will not be made public, the Secretary General said. He reported that as of Feb. 3 UNEF strength consisted of 6404 officers and men representing contingents from 11 nations.

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