U.n.secretary-general Urges Extension of Unifil Mandate

Charging the situation in southern Lebanon is “volatile,” U.N. Secretary-General Javier Perez de Cuellar recommended Wednesday that the Security Council extend the mandate of UNIFIL, the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon, for another period of six months.

The present mandate of the force, established by the Security Council in 1978 to maintain peace in southern Lebanon, expires July 31. A vote on the proposed extension, though not yet scheduled, is expected Friday.

The secretary-general, in a report to the Security Council dated July 25 and circulated here Wednesday, asserts the 5,844-troop force “continues to play an important role in controlling the level of violence in a very volatile situation which, without it, could quickly escalate into wider conflict.”

Perez de Cuellar was sharply critical of the security zone Israel maintains in southern Lebanon. He said that the area under Israeli control is “manned by the Israel Defense Force and the so-called South Lebanon Army.”

He claimed “resistance groups continued to launch frequent operations against IDF and SLA” and that the two forces “generally responded with heavy artillery” when attacked.

According to the secretary-general’s report, UNIFIL recorded a total of 114 attacks on IDF and SLA forces in the first five months of the current mandate: 19 in January, 19 in February, 26 in March, 19 in April, 14 in May and 17 in June.

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