Hezbollah rejects French accusations over UN attack

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Lebanon's militant group Hezbollah on Monday denied French accusations that it was behind an attack against French UN peacekeepers and urged Paris to reconsider laying the blame on the group and its Syrian backers.

Hezbollah said it was surprised by French Prime Minister Alain Juppe's remarks at the weekend, when he said the Shiite group and the embattled regime in Syria were probably behind a roadside bombing that wounded five French UN peacekeepers in south Lebanon last Friday.

"We condemn such statements which do not befit the foreign minister of an important country such as France," Hezbollah said in a statement.

It urged Juppe to "correct his position and pay heed to the seriousness of such accusations which represent a great injustice."

The French foreign minister on Sunday said he believes Damascus had probably ordered the attack in the coastal city of Tyre and that its ally Hezbollah had assisted in carrying it out.

"We have strong reasons to think that this attack came from there," Juppe said, adding that he had no proof to back his claim.

The incident marked the third such attack this year against members of the United National Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL).

Syria on Monday also denied any involvement in last Friday's attack and criticised Juppe for pointing a finger at Damascus.

"Syria has no link whatsoever with this act which we condemn," foreign ministry spokesman Jihad Makdisi said in a statement.

The attack on the French peacekeepers came amid heightened tension over the growing nine-month revolt in Syria, with politicians and diplomats warning the unrest could spill into Lebanon, whose government is dominated by Hezbollah.

© 2011 AFP

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