Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea stated on Tuesday that the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon’s mission in the South has been curtailed due to Hizbullah’s presence in the area.
He said during a press conference on the latest developments: “Hizbullah is directly or indirectly responsible for all the security incidents in southern Lebanon.”
He explained that ever since UNIFIL assumed its duties in the South, it has come under attack by the local residents under the excuse of maintaining national dignity.
“Hundreds and even thousands of attacks” by the residents against UNIFIL have taken place and as a result, the international troops have been forced to resign their mission and “remain cooped up in their barracks,” he continued.
“Had they been given the opportunity to exercise their duties, would they have been successful in maintaining the stability in the South?” asked the LF chief.
“The forces in the area have however prevented them from fulfilling their mission and instead remain concerned about their own safety,” Geagea noted.
“UNIFIL and the Lebanese authorities have only been allowed to inspect explosion sites in the South after Hizbullah had swept the area, which confirms the party’s control of the region,” he said.
“Is it therefore logical that Hizbullah does not know who has been behind attacks against UNIFIL?” he wondered.
The party is responsible for the attacks because it is definitely aware of the presence of various armed groups in the South, he asserted.
Furthermore, Geagea accused Syria of supporting these groups and employing them to divert blame for attacks away from Hizbullah.
“Stability in Lebanon can therefore only be established through eliminating all armed groups outside the state’s control and getting rid of the magical equation of the army, people, and Resistance,” he stressed.
“The equation should instead be replaced with that of the people, state, and army,” he stated.
He indirectly blamed state officials for the current instability, saying that they should assume their responsibilities in maintaining the peace instead of simply condemning various security incidents.
In addition, Geagea warned that the various attacks against UNIFIL may force the participating countries to withdraw their troops.
Five French soldiers and two civilians were wounded on Friday by a powerful roadside bomb that targeted a UNIFIL patrol in the southern coastal city of Tyre.
A French U.N. patrol was attacked on July 26 and Italian peacekeepers were targeted on May 27.
UNIFIL Force Commander Major-General Alberto Asarta Cuevas denounced the attack but vowed it would not deter his troops from fulfilling their mandate.
France on Sunday accused Syria and its ally Hizbullah of being behind Friday’s attack.
"We have strong reasons to think that this attack came from Syria," said French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe, noting that Damascus used Hizbullah for such attacks in the past.
On Monday, Syria and Hizbullah both denied the allegations.
"Syria has no link whatsoever with this act which we condemn," Syrian foreign ministry spokesman Jihad Maqdisi said in a statement
For its part, the party stressed in a statement: “Hizbullah deplores this condemned behavior, which was inappropriate coming from the foreign minister of an important nation such as France.”
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