Beirut warns groups to keep cease-fire

Any group breaking cease-fire would be "decisively dealt with."

annan 298.88 ap (photo credit: AP [file])
annan 298.88 ap
(photo credit: AP [file])
Lebanon's defense minister said Sunday any group breaking the cease-fire in southern Lebanon would be "decisively dealt with" and would be considered a traitor. Defense Minister Elias Murr's comments apparently were to air concerns that factions other than Hizbullah, which he said is committed to the cease-fire, may attempt to draw Israeli retaliation by firing on the Jewish state. "We consider that when the resistance (Hizbullah) is committed not to fire rockets, then any rocket that is fired from the Lebanese territory would be considered collaboration with Israel to provide a pretext (to Israel) to strike," he told a news conference at the Defense Ministry. On Saturday, Murr threatened to stop the deployment of the army in south Lebanon, a key demand of the UN cease-fire resolution, after Israel's helicopter-borne commando raid deep in the Bekaa Valley. Israel said it launched the raid to intercept weapons shipments for Hizbullah from Syria. An IDF officer, Lt.-Col. Imanuel Moreno, was killed and two soldiers were wounded, one seriously, in the attack. UN Secretary General Kofi Annan announced Saturday night that the raid in Baalbek constitutes a violation of the UN cease-fire resolution that went into effect on Monday. A statement issued by Annan's spokesman said that the UN chief spoke with both Lebanese Prime Minister Fuad Saniora and Olmert about the fighting. "The secretary-general is deeply concerned about a violation by the Israeli side of the cessation of hostilities," it said. "All such violations of Security Council Resolution 1701 endanger the fragile calm that was reached after much negotiation," said the statement, issued by spokesman Stephane Dujarric. The White House declined to criticize the raid, noting that Israel said it acted in reaction to arms smuggling into Lebanon and that the UN resolution calls for the prevention of resupplying Hezbollah with weapons. "The incident underscores the importance of quickly deploying the enhanced UNIFIL," White House spokeswoman Jeanie Mamo said. Earlier, UN Middle East envoy Terje Roed-Larsen said that "if what was reported is true, this is a clear violation of the cease-fire."