Fillon on UNIFIL Attack: Cowardice Won't Shake Our Determination

French Prime Minister Francois Fillon on Monday paid homage to the French U.N. peacekeepers who were wounded in a bombing last week against their patrol in southern Lebanon, saying the attack would not dampen France's commitment to the mission in Lebanon.

Speaking at a military base in the northeastern French town of Saint Dizier, Fillon said: "I want to send a thought to the five French UNIFIL peacekeepers who were injured Friday in the south of Lebanon, in an attack whose cowardice will not shake our determination."

Syria on Monday denied involvement in the attack, a day after France said Damascus was probably behind the attack.

"Syria has no link whatsoever with this act which we condemn," Syrian foreign ministry spokesman Jihad Maqdisi said in a statement that also criticized French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe for pointing a finger at Damascus.

Juppe said on Sunday that Syria was "undoubtedly" behind Friday's bombing, adding however that so far he had no proof to back his claim.

"We have strong reasons to think that this attack came from there," Juppe told the TV5 Monde television channel and Le Monde newspaper.

Juppe claimed that Syria had used Lebanon’s Hizbullah for such attacks in the past.

"I don't have proof," he said, however.

But informed sources told Lebanese daily An Nahar in remarks published Monday that Juppe’s accusation was not merely political, but rather based on preliminary international investigations that point to Syria’s involvement in the attack.

In his statement, Maqdisi said that "remarks by Mr. Juppe and others are within the framework of premeditated French accusations made to mask the reality concerning Syria."

The five French members of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) were wounded on Friday when a bomb targeted their patrol on the outskirts of the coastal city of Tyre. Two passers-by were also wounded.

No group has claimed responsibility for the attack, the third this year on UNIFIL soldiers.

Source: Agence France Presse

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