Venezuela to deploy more troops on Colombian border

By Jorge Jraissati

CARACAS, Venezuela (AA) – Venezuela’s armed forces said Tuesday that they are deploying more troops to the state of Apure on the border with Colombia, which has seen heavy clashes between the army and Colombian irregular armed groups.

According to a statement issued by Operational Strategic Commander Remigio Ceballos, the incoming troops will execute “operations to combat and expel” armed groups coming from Colombia.

"From Apure, we continue to increase our footing by executing operations to combat and expel irregular Colombian terrorist drug trafficking groups to whom we have dealt heavy blows and will continue to fight until they are all expelled," said Ceballos.

The decision comes as Apure has been experiencing heavy clashes for over a month between the Venezuelan armed forces and a criminal group from Colombia which is believed to be a dissident group from the FARC guerrilla group.

The clashes began when the Venezuelan armed forces launched Operation Bolivar Shield.

According to Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, the operation’s mission is to protect Venezuela’s border from “Colombia's abandonment,” which has resulted in armed groups occupying the area illegally for drug trafficking purposes.

As a result of the combat, Colombian authorities have reported that over 6,000 Venezuelans have left the state, crossing the border to Colombia’s municipality of Arauquita.

The Venezuelan opposition has asked the UN to send a mission to the border and the request has also been extended to other international institutions.

The opposition similarly urged the Venezuelan government to "implement a border state policy so that fellow citizens feel safe in their territory," arguing that the mismanagement of the crisis on the border is the cause forcing thousands of Venezuelans to cross the border to Colombia.