Hezbollah calls for restricted UN peacekeeping mission in Lebanon

The UN Security Council is scheduled to discuss extending Unifil's mandate on Wednesday

The National reports from site in Lebanon where Irish UN peacekeeper was killed

The National reports from site in Lebanon where Irish UN peacekeeper was killed
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Hezbollah has objected to renewing the mandate of the UN peacekeeping force in the south of Lebanon.

The mandate of the UN Interim Force in Lebanon, which expires on Thursday, was extended last year with an adjustment that allowed the peacekeeping force “to conduct its operations independently”.

Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah previously described the provision as “a violation of Lebanese sovereignty”.

On Monday, he again spoke out against a proposed renewal under the same terms.

“A foreign armed force that moves on Lebanese territory without authorisation of the government and Lebanese army, without co-ordination with the Lebanese army, where is the sovereignty in all that?” Mr Nasrallah said.

Iran-backed Hezbollah has one of its main power bases in southern Lebanon, which borders Israel.

“The people of the South will not allow a decision to be applied against the will of the Lebanese government,” said Mr Nasrallah.

The UN Security Council is scheduled to meet on Wednesday to discuss extending Unifil's mandate.

Unifil began its mission more than four decades ago. It typically co-ordinates patrols and movements in its area of operations with the Lebanese Armed Forces.

Lebanon's government has also objected to the absence of a stipulation in the force's mandate that would make such co-ordination mandatory.

Lebanon's caretaker Foreign Minister Abdallah Bou Habib met UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres in New York on Monday to tell him of Beirut's position.

Unifil was set up in 1978 to monitor the withdrawal of Israeli troops after they invaded Lebanon in pursuit of fighters from the Palestinian Liberation Organisation.

It was bolstered in 2006 after Israel and Hezbollah fought a month-long war and was given the task of monitoring a ceasefire between the two sides.

In December 2022, an Irish soldier with Unifil was killed and three others wounded when their convoy came under fire in southern Lebanon in an area outside the mission's normal area of operations.

It is believed that the convoy took a wrong turn from the motorway that runs north to Beirut.

Hezbollah later handed over to Lebanese authorities a man believed to have carried out the attack that killed Pvt Sean Rooney, 23.

The group denied involvement in the attack, although the suspect is believed to support Hezbollah.

Updated: September 01, 2023, 10:05 AM