Plumbly Stresses Need to Cooperate with Suleiman, State Institutions to Ensure Stability in Lebanonإقرأ هذا الخبر بالعربية
United Nations Special Coordinator for Lebanon Derek Plumbly condemned on Monday the clashes in the southern city of Sidon, extending his sympathy to Army Commander General Jean Qahwaji and to the families of those who have been killed in the fighting.
He said: “We are at one in our support for President Michel Suleiman, for the institutions of the state and for the security forces, and in particular the army, at this difficult juncture.”
“We stress the need for all concerned throughout the country to work with them to ensure the security and stability Lebanon’s people deserve, and to keep Lebanon safe from conflict,” he added.
He made his remarks after a meeting with the five ambassadors of the permanent members of the U.N. Security Council to discuss recent developments with regard both to U.N. Security Council resolution 1701, on which U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon will soon issue a further report, and to the situation in Lebanon.
Plumbly continued: “I would like again to emphasize the important role played by the Lebanese security and armed forces in sustaining Lebanon’s national unity and sovereignty.”
“I and the ambassadors were unanimous in deploring the recent challenge to the rule of law in Sidon, and attacks on the Lebanese armed forces there and elsewhere,” he stated.
“We stress the importance of the protection of civilians and look forward to the early restoration of order in the city,” said the U.N. official.
Clashes broke out on Sunday between the army and supporters of Salafist cleric Sheikh Ahmed al-Asir in the southern city of Sidon.
The military command said the number of troops killed in the fighting rose to 12. There were also more than 50 injuries among the ranks of the soldiers, but it was not clear how many fighters were killed in the unrest.
The clashes erupted when al-Asir's supporters surrounded an army checkpoint in the area, where a vehicle transporting other supporters of the cleric had been stopped.
After the armed men attacked the troops with gunfire, the army fired back.
Later on Monday, U.S. Ambassador to Lebanon Maura Connelly met with Prime Minister-designate Tammam Salam to address the latest developments in Lebanon.
Connelly expressed the United States’ strong condemnation of the violent clashes in Sidon and conveyed her country’s deepest sympathies and condolences for the deaths and injury of Lebanese army members and innocent civilians.
She called on all parties “to exercise restraint and respect for Lebanon’s stability and security as well as the safety of civilians.”
She further praised the efforts of the army and Internal Security Forces in working with political leaders to maintain peace and stability, underscoring the United States’ commitment to continue providing training and equipment to assist security forces in their critical role of preserving Lebanon’s unity.
Connelly reiterated the United States position that government formation is a Lebanese process and that the Lebanese people deserve a government that reflects their aspirations and that strengthens Lebanon's stability, sovereignty, and independence while fulfilling its international obligations.
The ambassador renewed the commitment of the United States to a stable, sovereign, and independent Lebanon.