Hezbollah condemns attack on UNIFIL troops

Lebanese opposition MP says Syria attacked French peacekeepers because France is destabilizing Syria.

December 9, 2011 19:58
2 minute read.
UN peacekeepers after bomb attack [illustrative]

UNIFIL 311 R. (photo credit: REUTERS/Ali Hashisho)


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Hezbollah on Friday denounced the bombing of a UNIFIL convoy in southern Lebanon that injured five French peacekeepers, according to Hezbollah affiliate Al Manar.

"This attack targeted security and stability in Lebanon in general, and particularly in southern Lebanon," Hezbollah said in a press release.

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Hezbollah called on the Lebanese security forces to work towards ending such attacks.

The blast was the third to hit UN forces in Lebanese territory near Israel this year, and hit a jeep carrying French UNIFIL troops on the outskirts of the Mediterranean port city of Tyre.

An opposition MP placed the blame for the attack on Syria and, by proxy, Hezbollah.

"It is clear that Syria was behind what happened today and the messenger was Hezbollah," Marwan Hamadeh told AFP.

Hamadeh said Damascus was motivated to target the French UNIFIL convoy because the government there believes France is leading efforts to destabilize Syria.

A similar attacks against UN peacekeepers in southern Lebanon occurred in May and July of this year, the former prompting Italy to reduce its contribution to UNIFIL to 1,100 soldiers from 1,800.

Most of the injuries Friday were light but medical sources said one of the UNIFIL soldiers was badly wounded.

Security sources said two passersby were also hurt.

Two months later six French soldiers were wounded in another attack.

French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe said Paris would "not be intimidated by such disgraceful acts", urging Lebanon to bring the perpetrators to justice and ensure the safety and freedom of movement of UN forces.

The UN Security Council called in August for a review of UNIFIL operations in Lebanon by the end of the year, aimed partly at assessing whether the Lebanese army could assume greater role in operations. Diplomats say the results of the review are unlikely to be issued for several months.

The border area has remained relatively quiet since 2006, although 10 Palestinian demonstrators were killed in May after troops fired upon protesters near the shared border at Marun Aras.

Last year a senior IDF officer, two Lebanese soldiers and a Lebanese journalist were killed when Lebanese and Israeli troops clashed at the border.

Reuters contributed to this report.

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