Syria rejects international force on its border with Lebanon

Published August 23rd, 2006 - 05:59 GMT

Syrian President Bashar Al Assad on Tuesday rejected calls by Israel to deploy international troops along the Syrian-Lebanese border, which Israel claims is being used to transfer arms to Hizbullah in violation of UN Resolution 1701.


Assad explained that such a move represented a breach in Lebanese sovereignty in the area, and was thus unacceptable. "This would be a withdrawal of Lebanese sovereignty and a hostile position," the Syrian president stated, according to Reuters and Haaretz.


"Hizbullah's victory was enough to teach Israel a lesson, that the isolation of Syria has failed and that anyone who tries to isolate Syria isolates himself from basic issues," Assad added.


Israel has stated that it will be unable to end its air and sea blockade on Lebanon unless an international force can ensure that no weapons are given to Hizbullah through the Syrian border or Lebanon's Beirut airport. 


UN envoy Terje Roed-Larsen stated that some 2,000 Lebanese soldiers had been deployed to the border with Syria, and that senior Lebanese officials had hinted that they would request help in monitoring the crossings from the international community.


International community falls short on promises


As part of the UN-brokered cease-fire between Israel and Lebanon, an international force of some 15,000 troops is to be deployed in the area in place of the 2,000-strong UNIFIL force currently stationed in southern Lebanon.


However, European leaders who contributed to the passage of the cease-fire agreement have yet to meet the commitments they vowed to uphold during negotiations.


France last week sent a mere 400 soldiers to Lebanon, a move that reflected the cynicism of French President Jacques Chirac and his colleagues as one after another Europe states presented reasons why they could not contribute to the force they had pressed to establish.


In response, UN Deputy Secretary-General Mark Malloch Brown called on the countries of Europe to contribute their share to the first wave of peacekeepers in Lebanon. He added that the coming 10 days were crucial for the success of the agreement.


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