UN Council raises 'grave concern' over Syria-Lebanon attacks

Agence France-Presse

Posted at Mar 15 2013 07:51 AM | Updated as of Mar 15 2013 03:51 PM

UNITED NATIONS - The UN Security Council expressed "grave concern" Thursday over cross-border attacks between Syria and Lebanon in a rare united declaration on the Syrian conflict.

The 15-member body, bitterly divided over the war, expressed "deep concern" over the impact on Lebanon from the Syrian conflict, in a statement agreed at closed talks.

Council members "underscored their grave concern over repeated incidents of cross-border fire which caused death and injury among the Lebanese population, incursions, abductions and arms trafficking across the Lebanese-Syrian border, as well as other border violations."

The statement was read to reporters by Russia's UN envoy Vitaly Churkin. Moscow has joined Beijing in blocking three resolutions that were aimed at stepping up pressure on President Bashar al-Assad to halt the conflict.

The Security Council "underlined the importance of full respect for Lebanon's sovereignty, unity and territorial integrity."

It also expressed "deep concern at the impact of the Syrian crisis on Lebanon's stability."

Council members "appealed to all Lebanese people to preserve national unity in the face of attempts to undermine the country's stability and stressed the need for all Lebanese parties to respect Lebanon's policy of disassociation and to refrain from any involvement in the Syrian crisis."

UN envoy to Lebanon, Derek Plumbly, said there was "ongoing concern about weapons smuggling and other breaches" of the border. He added that the Security Council statement is "important for Lebanon."

There have been repeated deadly clashes along the Syria-Lebanon border in the two years of the conflict between Assad and opposition rebels. The United Nations has expressed mounting fears that fighting will spill over the border.

UN leader Ban Ki-Moon last month called on the Syrian government to "cease all violations of the border."

Lebanon has officially insisted it is neutral in the Syria conflict, but there are deep divisions in Lebanon with Sunni forces supporting the revolt and the Shiite Hezbollah and its allies backing Assad.

There are also more than 360,000 Syrian refugees registered in Lebanon with many more not registered. The Security Council called on countries which made pledges toward a $1.5 billion UN appeal for Syria in January to "follow through" on the promised cash.

The UN humanitarian department says that only a small proportion of the money has been handed over.

© 1994-2013 Agence France-Presse