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UN envoy urges restraint following attacks across Lebanon's withdrawal line

UN envoy urges restraint following attacks across Lebanon's withdrawal line

A senior United Nations official in Beirut today called for maximum restraint following a series of violations across the withdrawal line in southern Lebanon.

Staffan de Mistura, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan's Personal Representative in Southern Lebanon, said that Wednesday "was not a good day for the Blue Line," as the withdrawal line is known. That day, 12 Israeli military overflights took place over the Blue Line, he said, adding that "some were deep inside Lebanese territory and sonic booms were heard over Beirut and Tripoli."

In the late afternoon on Wednesday, Hizbollah launched a military attack across the Blue Line on two Israeli Defence Forces fixed positions in the Shebaa Farms area, according to the envoy, who said the attack was heavy, involving mortar rounds, missiles and rockets. "The IDF subsequently shelled the area in Lebanon from where the attacks originated," he added.

"The fact that there were no victims and that attack and counter-attack near the Shebaa Farms area was limited to that area should help in containing this incident without any further escalation," Mr. de Mistura said. "The United Nations is calling for the cessation of provocative actions and reminding all parties to exercise maximum restraint and respect for the Blue Line."

At the same time, the Special Representative warned that "this is clearly very bad timing for activities that increase tension in the region." He stressed that respect for the Blue Line was critical to stability in the area and recalled that the Security Council has on numerous occasions urged all concerned to refrain from any violations.