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Ban Ki-moon
Photo: Chaim Tzach
UN's Ban presses Syria over arms smuggling
UN secretary-general urges Syria to respect arms embargo on Palestinian armed groups, Hizbullah in Lebanon, says Beirut seized large weapons sent by Syria to radical Palestinian group
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called on Syria and Iran to respect an arms embargo on militias in Lebanon and urged Damascus, in a report issued on Friday, to better control its border with its neighbor.

 

In a report for the Security Council, Ban also demanded support from Syria in efforts to disarm Palestinian armed groups outside Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon.

 

Israel and the Lebanese government have told the United Nations that arms are being shipped from Syria into Lebanon, both to the pro-Iranian Lebanese Hizbullah group, which fought a war with Israel last year, and to Palestinian factions.

 

Syria has denied involvement in such shipments, which would breach Security Council resolution 1701 that ended last year's war and bans "sales or supply of arms and related materiel to Lebanon except as authorized by its government."

 

In his latest report on the implementation of that resolution, Ban cited "disturbing information" from the Beirut government that eight 40-barrel rocket launchers were seen being moved from Syria into Lebanon on June 6.

 

Their destination, according to the Lebanese army, was an outpost of the radical Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command, he said.

 

Beirut believed, Ban said, that posts of the PFLP-GC and another group, Fatah-Intifada, in Lebanon had been reinforced with arms and fighters
from Syria following fighting in the north between the al Qaeda-inspired Fatah al-Islam and the Lebanese army. He noted that Syria had denied that allegation.

 

"The Syrian Arab Republic, other regional states and the Islamic Republic of Iran have a particular responsibility to ensure that the provisions related to the arms embargo of resolution 1701 ... are fully respected," Ban said.

 

"I urge the Syrian Arab Republic to do more to control its border with Lebanon and look forward to specific proposals from the Syrian authorities."

 

Political crisis 

A group of experts told the United Nations in a report on Tuesday that the Lebanese border control system was largely incapable of preventing the influx of arms from Syria.

 

Ban recalled that Lebanese political parties had agreed more than a year ago that Palestinian armed groups outside of camps should be disarmed within six months, adding: "I expect the support of the Syrian government on this particular issue."

 

Ban said that while the deployment of Lebanese and UN troops along the Lebanese-Israeli border had helped prevent fresh fighting, there was no permanent ceasefire.

 

Lebanon still faced a "debilitating political crisis" and "ongoing attacks" such as the murder of an anti-Syrian member of parliament this month, that are aimed at destabilizing it.

 

Ban urged Syria and Lebanon to resume work to delimit their border, but reported some progress on the disputed Shebaa Farms area, which the United Nations says is Syrian land captured by Israel in 1967, but Syria and Lebanon say is Lebanese.

 

A UN cartographer was on the way to defining the actual extent of the area, he said, but quoted Syria as telling him the issue could only be resolved after a Syrian-Israeli peace agreement.

 

"I would encourage (Syria) to reconsider this policy," Ban said.

 

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