Muallem Sends Memo to Mansour, Urges Lebanese Army to 'Control Border'

Damascus on Thursday called on the Lebanese army to "control the border to preserve security and stability," in the wake of Wednesday's Syrian air raid on the Bekaa border town of Arsal.

Caretaker Foreign Minister Adnan Mansour said he received a memo from Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Muallem about the situation on the border between the two countries.

Muallem cited the security agreements signed between Lebanon and Syria and underlined Damascus' "keenness on Lebanon's security," Mansour said.

The Syrian minister "stressed the importance that the Lebanese army control the border to preserve security and stability," urging Lebanese authorities to "take the necessary measures that strengthen the joint efforts between the two brotherly countries and peoples, in the framework of mutual keenness on respecting the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the two states."

The Syrian memo comes after a Syrian helicopter gunship bombed Arsal on Wednesday morning, prompting the Lebanese army to issue an unprecedented statement in which it warned that it will immediately retaliate to any future attacks, as President Michel Suleiman threatened to file complaints with the Arab League and the U.N. Security Council.

The United States condemned the attack as an "unacceptable provocation which risked dragging Lebanon into war.”

Hours after the helicopter gunship fired missiles at Arsal, Syria's army command said it respects Lebanon's sovereignty and territorial integrity.

The army said it will continue to target rebels across Syrian territory, but that it is "committed to respecting the sovereignty of the Lebanese republic, its territorial integrity and the safety of its people."

Using the term "terrorist" to refer to rebels fighting President Bashar Assad's regime, the army command said the strike came after "one of the air force's helicopters spotted an armed terrorist group as its members tried to flee towards Lebanese territory."

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