A Western-backed Lebanese group called for the deployment of United Nations peace keepers along the border with Syria as the spillover of violence draws Lebanon deeper into its neighbor’s civil war.
In a letter to President Michel Suleiman today, the March 14 coalition also called for the immediate withdrawal from Syria of Lebanese Hezbollah guerrillas who are shoring up Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, Lebanon’s official National News Agency reported today. The group, a coalition of Christian and mostly Sunni Muslim political parties opposed to Assad, wants to model the border force on one along the border with Israel that includes both UN and Lebanese army troops.
With the spillover from the Syrian war escalating, Suleiman sent a complaint to the UN today about violations against Lebanese territory by all warring groups in Syria, NNA said.
The Syrian conflict has taken on an increasingly sectarian tone as it pulls in pro- and anti-Assad forces in Lebanon. Syrian helicopters have attacked border areas on the ground that they harbored predominantly Sunni Muslim rebels, while Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah has accused anti-Assad forces of shelling Shiite Muslim border villages in Lebanon.
One person was killed and four injured today in clashes in the southern Lebanon town of Abra, NNA said. The Daily Star newspaper said the fighting pitted supporters of radical Sunni cleric Sheikh Ahmed al-Assir and members of the Resistance Brigades, a pro-Hezbollah group.
European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton is discussing the situation in Lebanon during a visit to Beirut. Ashton met with Caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati yesterday and with Suleiman today.
Her meeting today with Foreign Minister Adnan Mansour was canceled, according to NNA, which didn’t give a reason. Mansour has called on the Arab League to reinstate Syria as a member to help to find a political solution to its war and criticized the league for condemning Hezbollah’s involvement in Syria.