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Syria behind attack on troops, France says
French Foreign Minister Alain Juppé said Sunday in an interview that Paris believes Syria was behind a roadside bomb that wounded five French peacekeeping troops in Lebanon Friday and that it is "absolutely" sure Hezbollah was behind the attack.
REUTERS - France’s Foreign Minister Alain Juppe said on Sunday Paris believed Syria was behind attacks on its troops in Lebanon earlier this week.
A roadside bomb wounded five French peacekeepers in southern Lebanon on Friday, in the third attack this year on United Nations forces deployed near the frontier with Israel.
“We have strong reason to believe these attacks came from there (Syria),” Juppe said on RFI radio. “We think it’s most probable, but I don’t have proof.”
France - with Britain, Germany and the United States - has been pushing for the U.N. Security Council to take up the issue of Syria again. In October, Russia and China vetoed a resolution that would have condemned Damascus’ crackdown on pro-democracy protesters and threatened possible sanctions.
Paris is now pushing for the creation of humanitarian corridors to provide aid to the population.
When asked if he believed Hezbollah had carried out the attack on behalf of Damascus, Juppe said: “Absolutely. It is Syria’s armed wing (in Lebanon).”
The attack follows attacks in May and July against French and Italian peacekeepers and comes as the United Nations prepares a review of its 12,000-strong operation, which was beefed up after Israel’s 34-day war with Hezbollah in 2006.
Juppe called on the Lebanese government to ensure the safety of peacekeeers in the country and said the review at the U.N. assess the consequences of the attacks and redefine the objectives of the UNIFIL mission.
The U.N. Security Council agreed on Friday to France’s request for a briefing on Syria’s crackdown from the U.N. human rights chief, overcoming resistance from Russia, China and Brazil, Western envoys said.
Juppe said Syrian President Bashar al-Assad had lost all legitimacy and Paris was pushing Russia to change its stance at the United Nations where Moscow has refused to endorse any Security Council resolution against Syria.
“We are trying to convince Russia to get out of the isolation that it’s put itself in,” he said.