UN chief urges Hezbollah to leave Syria to avoid spillover
Hezbollah forces in Syria have supported pro-regime efforts to reclaim territory from rebels, particularly near Damascus (Courtesy of Press TV)
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United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called on Hezbollah to withdraw its forces from the fighting in Syria and expressed concern over calls within Lebanon to participate in the neighboring war, according to a report obtained in advance by The Daily Star Friday.
“I reiterate my call on [Hezbollah] and all other concerned parties not to engage in any militant activity inside or outside of Lebanon, consistent with the requirements of the Taif Agreement and Security Council Resolution 1559,” the UN chief said.
“Of equal concern are ... calls from inside Lebanon to engage in jihad in the Syrian Arab Republic,” he added.
Ban made the remarks in the 18th semiannual report to the Security Council on the implementation of Resolution 1559, which calls on Lebanon to establish its sovereignty, foreign forces to withdraw and individual militias to disband.
“I am also deeply concerned at the acknowledged increased participation in the fighting in the Syrian Arab Republic by [Hezbollah] and the risk of spillover in Lebanon,” the UN chief said.
He also reiterated his call for Lebanese parties to uphold the Baabda Declaration and keep away from regional conflicts.
Additionally, Ban cautioned that the proliferation of Hezbollah’s military and weapons “remains a matter of grave concern,” particularly since the party’s weapons were outside the control of the state, adding that it violated Resolution 1559.
He urged the Lebanese government and the Army “to take all the measures necessary to prohibit [Hezbollah] from acquiring weapons and building paramilitary capacities outside the authority of the state.”
Ban also called on regional countries with ties to the party to call for the party’s disarmament.
He expressed disappointment at the lack of progress made in implementing the resolution. In connection with the Syrian crisis, Lebanon continues to face challenges to its stability and security, exacerbated by arms smuggling and the influx of refugees across the Syrian border.
He said further stagnation over the implementation of the resolution could damage Lebanon’s security further.
The UN chief did praise Lebanon for the “way it has maintained an open door to Syrians” and he called upon international governments to provide more assistance and funding as quickly as possible.
Ban also called for the quick formation of a government in light of current events, and for ministers to address the most pressing humanitarian and security-related matters.
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