Syria Tells UN Shebaa is Lebanese Land
Syria said for the first time on Tuesday it considered the Shebaa farms area to be Lebanese territory and joined Lebanon in calling for Israel's withdrawal as part of its plan to leave south Lebanon, Reuters reported the same day.
Israel insists Shebaa is part of the Golan Heights, which it occupied from Syria in 1967.
Foreign Minister Farouq al-Shara told UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan Syria's position in a phone call, the ministry said.
“Mr Shara affirmed that the Shebaa farms are Lebanese occupied lands whose ownership and sovereignty do not belong to Israel in accordance with international law and UN resolutions related to the Arab-Israeli conflict,” a spokesman said.
“The land issue has never been at any time a matter for dispute or conflict between the two brotherly countries Syria and Lebanon.”
Israel plans to withdraw its troops by July from a nine-mile (15 km) deep zone in south Lebanon, excluding Shebaa, with or without a deal with Syria.
“Syria supports the just Lebanese demands for the restoration of all the occupied Lebanese territories including the Shebaa farms,” the spokesman quoted Shara as telling Annan.
Analysts noted it was the first time Syria had affirmed this stance on Shebaa.
The ministry spokesman said Shara's talks with Annan had dealt with the “possible” Israeli withdrawal from south Lebanon and the United Nations' role in guaranteeing full implementation of Security Council Resolution 425, which dates from 1978 and calls on Israel to quit Lebanon unconditionally.
“Mr Shara affirmed to the UN Secretary General Syria's support to the United Nations and its determination to facilitate the world body's mandate to achieve a full Israeli withdrawal,” the spokesman said.
SLA FORMER MEMBER KILLED, TWO ISRAELI CIVILIANS INJURED BY HIZBOLLAH
A former member of Israel's proxy South Lebanon Army (SLA) militia was killed Tuesday by a Hizbollah commando which infiltrated into the village of Markaba in the central sector of the Israeli-occupied zone, an SLA officer told AFP.
Azar Shahla, who had returned to civilian life more than a year ago, was shot dead at point-blank range on the village square.
Villagers told AFP that three armed men had arrived in the village in a van, went up to Shahla and shot him dead, before driving off.
Hezbollah issued a statement claiming responsibility for the killing, saying one of its commandos had "carried out the death sentence on the collaborator Azar Shahla."
An Israeli military source in the northern Israeli town of Kiryat Shmona said Shahla's death was the third such incident in recent months.
Meanwhile, two Israeli civilians working at an army post inside Israel were slightly wounded Tuesday from shelling by the Hizbollah movement, the Israeli army said in a statement quoted by AFP
"Two Israeli civilians were lightly wounded this evening ... when the terrorists fired mortars, artillery and missiles," onto the Israeli side of the border, the statement said.
"In addition, the terrorists fired towards another army post which is also situated on the Israeli side of the border," it added.
"Israel sees the series of terrorist attacks on Israeli territory as grave," the statement said.
It added that heavy fire had also been directed at posts belonging to Israel and its proxy South Lebanon Army (SLA) militia inside what Israel calls its "security zone" inside the Lebanese border.
An army official told AFP the injured civilians had been working in the Livneh army post in the western Galilee – (Several Sources)
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