BEIRUT: The Lebanese Forces is lobbying the United Nations to expand the mandate of the U.N. Interim Force in Lebanon to cover the country’s volatile border with Syria, the National News Agency said Thursday.
An LF delegation, including its chief adviser for foreign affairs, Elie Khoury, and the head of the Washington-based Lebanese Center for Information, Joseph Jbeili, have brought up the matter during talks with U.N. officials in New York on the latest security developments in the border town of Arsal and the issue Syrian refugees in Lebanon.
“With regard to the violence on the border [in Arsal], we made reference to U.N. Security Council Resolution 1701, which comprises a clause that allows the expansion of UNIFIL’s mission outside south Lebanon, enabling the international force to assist the Lebanese Army and Lebanese security forces in monitoring and controlling Lebanon’s border with Syria,” Khoury was quoted as saying after the talks.
He said the modification of UNIFIL’s tasks could be made at the request of the Lebanese government and did not require a new Security Council resolution.
Khoury said the LF delegation urged the members of the Security Council to act quickly in support of Lebanon and assist Lebanese authorities in curbing the fallout of the Syrian conflict on Lebanon.
“Expansion of the provisions of Resolution 1701 has become a necessity under the present situation through which Lebanon is passing,” Khoury said.
Resolution 1701, which ended Israel’s 33-day war on Lebanon in August 2006, stipulated the deployment of the Lebanese Army in south Lebanon to monitor the border with Israel, with the backing of a reinforced UNIFIL.
The LF official said the talks also focused on the need to provide effective military assistance to the Lebanese Army, within the framework of the International Support Group for Lebanon, which was set up to mobilize support for Lebanon and state institutions to help the country address the influx of Syrian refugees.
“It is of utmost importance to ensure quick assistance to the Army and Lebanese security apparatuses to reinforce the state’s capacity in combating terrorism and controlling the situation in the border,” Khoury added.
The Lebanese Army battled militants from Syria’s Al-Qaeda-linked Nusra Front and Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) for five days in Arsal, a Sunni town on Lebanon’s eastern border with Syria.
At least 17 soldiers, 50 militants and 12 civilians have been killed in the Arsal clashes.
A total of 38 members of the security forces - 19 policemen and 22 Lebanese soldiers - were taken captive by the militants in Arsal.