Lebanon army chief asks troops for readiness at Israel border

By REUTERS
November 21, 2017 10:08

An Israeli official responded that Aoun's warning was ''nonsense.''

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Lebanon army chief asks troops for readiness at Israel border

Lebanese army soldiers take part in a parade at a military academy marking the 72nd Army Day in Fayadyeh, near Beirut. (photo credit: REUTERS)

BEIRUT - Lebanon's army chief urged "full readiness" at the southern border to face the "threats of the Israeli enemy and its violations," the army said in a tweet on Tuesday.

Army Commander General Joseph Aoun called on soldiers to be ever vigilant for the "good implementation" of the UN resolution 1701 to "preserve stability" at the border with Israel.

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The Lebanese army is responsible for security on its side of the border under the resolution that ended the 2006 war between Israel and Lebanon's Hezbollah.

His remarks came a day after Lebanese president Michel Aoun appeared to defend Hezbollah as necessary to resist Israel, after an Arab League statement accused the group of terrorism and noted it is part of Lebanon's coalition government.

"Israeli targeting still continues and it is the right of the Lebanese to resist it and foil its plans by all available means," the President's office quoted him as saying in a Tweet.

Saudi Arabia, a regional rival of Iran, opposes Hezbollah's role as a military force in Syria and has accused it of helping the Houthi group in Yemen and militants in Bahrain.

"It's nonsense," a senior Israeli official, who requested anonymity, told Reuters in response to Lebanon's army commander General Joseph Aoun urging "full readiness" at the southern border to face "threats of the Israeli enemy and its violations."

Separately, the Israeli military said it had been holding a drill near Israel's border with Syria since Sunday.

The Arab League met on Sunday to discuss what it called Iranian interference in Arab countries, and accused Tehran's ally Hezbollah of terrorism.

Aoun said that Lebanon could not accept suggestions that its government was a partner in acts of terrorism, another Tweet quoted him as saying after meeting Arab League Secretary General Ahmed Aboul Gheit in Beirut.

Aboul Gheit said in Beirut that nobody was accusing Lebanon's government of terrorism or wanted to harm Lebanon.

"One of the ruling partners is accused of this... It is an indirect means of asking the Lebanese state to talk to this partner and convince them to restrain their acts on Arab land," he said. "Everyone acknowledges the particularity of the Lebanese situation."

Lebanon faces a political crisis after its prime minister Saad Hariri suddenly resigned on November 4 in a statement broadcast from Saudi Arabia. His resignation statement accused Iran and Hezbollah of "sowing strife" in Arab countries.




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