Lebanon News

Mansour: I never denied the Syrian attacks on Lebanon

Lebanon's Foreign Minister Adnan Mansour is seen in this March 7, 2013 picture at the Rafik Hariri International Airport. (The Daily Star/Mohammad Azakir)

BEIRUT: Foreign Minister Adnan Mansour Thursday denied reports that he had dismissed the Syrian airstrike in the country earlier this week as rumors, adding that he acts according to the directives of the government.

“These reports are not true at all, and I am surprised by them because they prove that there is an orchestra of fabricated statements and articles,” Mansour told the National News Agency.

Syrian jets dropped four rockets in the Bekaa Valley Monday, days after Damascus warned Beirut it would attack suspected rebel sites if cross-border incursions did not stop.

Although Damascus denied the attack Tuesday, Sleiman said the Army confirmed that Syrian jets targeted Lebanese soil. Washington also confirmed the reports.

“When the president says that a violation to sovereignty has taken place, is it possible that I would say the opposite? It would be an offense to the president and the Foreign Ministry,” Mansour said.

While in Lagos with Sleiman Tuesday, media reports quoted Mansour as saying that the news about the Syrian airstrike was a rumor. Sleiman tasked Mansour with issuing a letter of complaint to Damascus after the attack.

“What is important today is that the president has given instructions which we are following. ... This work has to do with the Foreign Ministry and goes through diplomatic channels,” Mansour said. “I will refer to the Army Command ... for information. If the military says that Lebanese territories were bombed, then I won’t deny that ... but [will] behave accordingly.”

The opposition has repeatedly criticized Mansour for what it perceives to be his pro-Syrian regime stance, calling him “Syria’s ambassador to Lebanon.”

“I take no notice of the sayings and campaigns against me when ... I carry out my diplomatic and political work that serves [our] interest under the guidance of the president, the prime minister and the government,” Mansour said.

For his part, Syrian Ambassador Ali Abdel-Karim Ali denied that Syrian jets targeted Lebanese territories, saying that gunmen crossing from the country were attacking his country.

“The Army statement did not say so and Syria denied [that this has happened],” Ali told reporters after meeting Free Patriotic Movement leader Michel Aoun at his residence in Rabieh.

“It [Syria] is being attacked on a daily basis by gunmen who take advantage of their location in Lebanese territories and martyrs fall and losses are inflicted on the Syrian side.”

He said Syria wanted strong ties with Lebanon. “We want joint agreements to materialize.”

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on March 22, 2013, on page 3.




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