TEL AVIV (Sep. 28)
Two French UNIFIL soldiers were slightly injured in south Lebanon Sunday, when their truck hit a mine, a spokesman for the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon announced.
Five French UNIFIL soldiers have been killed and 63 wounded in attacks by Shiite forces during the past six weeks. Most of the attacks were by the extremist Hezbullah faction. Others were by the mainstream Shiite militia, Amal.
Fighting in Beirut between rival Christian groups meanwhile left 62 dead and nearly 200 wounded in 24 hours of violent clashes in the Christian eastern part of the city.
Gen. Antoine Lehad, commander of the South Lebanon Army (SLA), said at a press conference in Metullah Sunday that his Israel-backed force was prepared for further attacks by Hezbullah and would soon add new military positions in the area of south Lebanon it controls.
He blamed Iran and Syria for recent attacks on four SLA positions by the Shiite forces they back. He said in addition to Hezbullah, SLA soldiers have been attacked by Amal members and Palestinian terrorists. He said Israel’s support for his men has been meager of late but he credited the threat of Israeli retaliation for the fact that there have not been more attacks on SLA positions.
Lehad said UNIFIL was not capable of maintaining peace in south Lebanon. He said if it is moved south to the international border, according to a Security Council resolution adopted last Tuesday, the danger of terrorist attacks on northern Israel would increase. But Lehad stressed that UNIFIL should not be withdrawn from Lebanon “under the threat of terror.”