Aoun Says Syrian Withdrawal Safeguards All, President Denies Contacts with Genrael
Exiled former Lebanese army commander Michel Aoun reiterated his call for the withdrawal of the Syrian Army Monday, saying that “the move would be better for the safety of all concerned.”
According to the Daily Star, the remarks came in a statement commenting on the recent Israeli air strike against a Syrian radar post in Dahr al-Baidar.
That attack, in which three soldiers were killed and six wounded, followed a Hizbollah operation that killed an Israeli soldier in the Shabaa Farms.
“We know very well that Syria is incapable of confronting Israel and does not wish to do so,” Aoun’s statement said.
Even so, it continued, “we greatly hoped that Syria would have retaliated, at least once. Accordingly, we reiterate our demand for (the Syrian Army’s) departure from Lebanon, as this will be better for both its safety and our own.”
On Tuesday, Lebanese President Emile Lahoud's office denied that it sent a representative to meet Aoun, in Paris, as claimed by supporters of the anti-Syrian general.
"The statement from the Aounist camp published Tuesday in the press referring to a meeting with General Aoun in Paris at the request of President Lahoud is absolutely false and is part of the lies put out by this movement," communications advisor Rafiq Shelala said in a statement released by the presidential office, quoted by AFP.
For its part, the Aounist group said that Shelala had "on several occasions" since his nomination held direct contacts with General Aoun to bring points of view closer to those of President Lahoud in order to reach a common denominator on Lebanese priorities."
"General Aoun has continued this dialogue because he has confidence in Shelala, who was asked to pursue this contact by President Lahoud," say the supporters of the former head of government of the Christian militias which waged a "war of liberation" against Syria at the end of the 1980s.
The Aounists say Shelala met the general while in Paris to prepare for President Lahoud's state visit next month to France, where Aoun has lived in voluntary exile since 1995, after completing a five-year period of banishment there – Albawaba.com
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