Juppe Says Syria 'Undoubtedly' behind Attack on UNIFIL

French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe said Sunday that Damascus was “undoubtedly” behind Friday’s bomb attack against a French UNIFIL patrol in southern Lebanon.

However, the top French diplomat noted that he had no evidence to substantiate his claim.

Asked during an interview with TV5MONDE, Radio France Internationale and Le Monde whether he believed the attack was a “message” from Syria, Juppe said: “There’s no doubt.”

"We have strong reasons to think that this attack came from there," he said, noting that Damascus used Hizbullah for such attacks in the past.

"I don't have proof," he stressed, while adding that the group was Syria's "armed wing."

Juppe added: "We have again asked the Lebanese government to protect UNIFIL."

The minister on Friday condemned the attack in which five French troops were wounded, saying France would not be intimidated by such "vile acts."

"I condemn in the strongest terms the cowardly attack that was carried out against UNIFIL (U.N. Interim Force in Lebanon) this morning, wounding five French peacekeepers," Juppe said on Friday.

A roadside bomb in the southern coastal town of Tyre wounded five French soldiers and two civilians when it was detonated as their vehicle drove past.

The chief of staff in Paris said four peacekeepers were "very lightly wounded" and the fifth "a bit more seriously" but without life-threatening injuries.

France is "determined to continue its involvement with UNIFIL (and) will not be intimidated by such vile acts," Juppe said.

UNIFIL patrols have been the target of a string of unclaimed roadside bomb attacks in recent years, including two previously in 2011.

Friday's blast came amid heightened tension over the bloody uprising in neighboring Syria, with some warning the unrest could spill over into Lebanon.

There have been constant fears that the UNIFIL force stationed in the south of the country would be an easy target should the unrest reach Lebanon.

Spain currently commands the 12,100-strong UNIFIL force, which was founded in 1978 and expanded after a 2006 war between Israel and Hizbullah.

France has one of the largest contingents with 1,300 soldiers.

In July, six French UNIFIL troops were wounded, one of them seriously, in the southern coastal town of Sidon, in an attack similar to Friday's. In May, six Italian peacekeepers were wounded in Sidon, also in a roadside bombing.

Three Spanish and three Colombian peacekeepers were killed in June 2007 when a booby-trapped car exploded as their patrol vehicle drove by.

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