LAF deploys along Syrian border

Finnish FM: Syria threatened to close borders if UN peacekeepers sent there.

August 23, 2006 20:45
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Sources in Beirut said the Lebanese army was deploying along the Syrian border, Israel Radio reported on Wednesday. According to a French news agency, several brigades deployed at points in northern and eastern Lebanon in order to prevent cross-border smuggling. The source said that the Lebanese army also intended to send helicopters to the area in the near future. Earlier Wednesday, Finnish Foreign Minister Erkki Tuomioja, whose country holds the rotating EU presidency, said that Syria had threatened to close its border with Lebanon if UN peacekeepers were deployed along the border. "They will close their borders for all traffic in case UN troops will be deployed along the Lebanon-Syria border," he said after meeting his Syrian counterpart, Walid Moallem, in Helsinki. On Tuesday, Syrian President Bashar Assad rejected Israel's demands to deploy the international peacekeeping force in Lebanon along the Syrian border. Speaking to a Dubai-based television station, he warned that such a presence would "harm Lebanon's autonomy" and would be considered an act of hostility.

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