Monday, January 24th | 23 Shevat 5782

December 24, 2021 5:57 am

Lebanon ‘Regrets’ Assault on UN Peacekeepers

avatar by Reuters and Algemeiner Staff

UNIFIL peacekeepers drive in a vehicle in Naqoura, in southern Lebanon, near the border with Israel, Oct. 13, 2020. Photo: Reuters / Aziz Taher.

Lebanon’s foreign ministry said on Thursday it regretted an assault on a Finnish battalion of UN peacekeepers and awaited results of an inquiry as videos showed local people attacking their vehicles with rocks.

Videos circulated on social media and published by news outlets showed residents of a southern Lebanese town pelting United Nations Interim Forces in Lebanon (UNIFIL) vehicles with rocks on Wednesday.

“The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Emigrants regrets the incident that occurred with the Finnish battalion in the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon,” the ministry said in a statement.

“The Ministry confirms that it does not accept any form of transgression against the UNIFIL forces.”

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Following the incident on Wednesday, UNIFIL said that “depriving UNIFIL of freedom of movement and attacking those who serve the cause of peace is unacceptable” and violated a peacekeeping agreement between Lebanon and the UN. It urged Lebanese authorities to hold those responsible accountable.

The peacekeepers, now numbering around 10,000, have been stationed in southern Lebanon since 1978, when they arrived following an Israeli invasion during the 1975-1990 civil war.

While Palestinian terror groups were active there at the time, Iran-backed terror group Hezbollah now dominates the area.

Wednesday’s incident came just hours after UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres departed the country following a four-day visit in which he reaffirmed the need for peacekeeping forces to go about their mission.

Ali Saleh, mayor of the town where the incident took place, told Reuters the peacekeepers had gone to streets they didn’t usually frequent, leading to locals asking them about their motives. He said the situation escalated and confirmed that people then pelted UNIFIL vehicles with rocks.

“Any out-of-the ordinary actions will provoke a reaction,” he said.

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