Lebanon asks UN Security Council to pressure Israel after ‘airspace violation’

Lebanese President Michel Aoun. (AFP)
Updated 11 February 2018
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Lebanon asks UN Security Council to pressure Israel after ‘airspace violation’

BEIRUT: Officials in Lebanon closely followed the recent military developments between Israel and Syria, and noted the fall of fragments from rockets used in the confrontation in the Bekaa and southern Lebanon areas.
President Michel Aoun consulted with Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri and Prime Minister Saad Hariri, who is outside Lebanon, about the position to be taken in this regard.
Lebanese Defense Minister Yacoub Sarraf called the UNIFIL commander, General Michael Perry, and conveyed to him “Lebanon’s rejection of the continuous Israeli violations that took place on Saturday in the form of mock raids carried out by Israeli warplanes above villages and towns in the south.”
Sarraf’s press office stressed “Lebanon’s rejection and condemnation of the use of Lebanese airspace by Israel to carry out its raids,” describing the incident as a “blatant violation of Lebanese sovereignty.”
The Lebanese Foreign Ministry in a statement condemned “the raids on Syria” and stressed the right of “legitimate self-defense against any Israeli aggression.” The statement added that “this aggressive policy practiced by Israel threatens stability in the region,” calling on “the countries concerned to rein in Israel to stop its aggression.”
It said: “Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil gave his instructions last Thursday to the Permanent Mission of Lebanon to the United Nations in New York to file a complaint with the Security Council against Israel, calling for the condemnation of Israel and warning it against using Lebanese airspace to launch attacks against Syria.”
In New York, Lebanon called on the UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and the Security Council to pressure Israel to immediately stop its violations of Lebanese airspace to launch airstrikes on Syrian territory.
“Israeli violations of Lebanese sovereignty are continuing by land, sea and air without any respect for international law or any consideration of Resolution 1701,” Lebanese Ambassador to the UN Amal Mudallali said in a complaint to the UN chief and the presidency of the UN Security Council.
Mudallali pointed out that Lebanon “had informed the Security Council in a previous complaint last year about Israel’s violation of Lebanese airspace in its raid on Syrian territory on Sept. 7, 2017,” asserting that these violations “paint a very dangerous pattern in addition to the patterns of daily violations of Lebanese sovereignty and constitute a new cycle of destabilization of regional security and peace by Israel.”
Mudallali reiterated Lebanon’s commitment to Resolution 1701 and called on the Security Council and the international community to “exert the necessary and effective pressure on Israel to ensure full compliance with the provisions of the resolution and its full implementation without delay, including the cessation of all violations of Lebanese airspace and sovereignty.”


Syrian fighters to support anti-Kurdish forces in northeast

A military vehicle is transported as part of a convoy on the outskirts of the city of Kilis, southeastern Turkey, close to the border with Syria, Thursday, Dec. 13, 2018. (AP)
Updated 39 min 36 sec ago
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Syrian fighters to support anti-Kurdish forces in northeast

  • Turkey has already swept YPG fighters from Afrin and other areas west of the Euphrates in military campaigns over the past two years

ISTANBUL: Up to 15,000 Syrian fighters are ready to join a Turkish military offensive against US-backed Kurdish forces in northeast Syria, but no date has been set for the operation, a spokesman for the main Turkish-backed Syrian opposition group said on Thursday.
President Tayyip Erdogan said on Wednesday that Turkey would launch the offensive in a few days, targeting a border region east of the Euphrates River which is held by the YPG Kurdish militia.
The announcement prompted a sharp rebuke from the Pentagon, which said any unilateral military action into northeast Syria would be unacceptable.
The US has been supporting the YPG in the fight against Daesh insurgents since 2015. Following cross-border shelling from Turkey into Kurdish-controlled territory two months ago, US forces have set up three military observation posts near the border.
Turkey says the YPG is a terrorist organization and an extension of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), which has waged an insurgency against the state in southeastern Turkey for more than three decades.
On Thursday the Turkish military said one of its soldiers stationed in Syria’s Afrin region was killed by fire from YPG fighters, who were in the Tel Rifaat area. Both areas are west of the Euphrates in northern Syria.
Turkish forces returned fire, the military said. Turkey has already swept YPG fighters from Afrin and other areas west of the Euphrates in military campaigns over the past two years, but has not gone east of the river — partly to avoid direct confrontation with US forces.
But Erdogan’s patience with Washington over Syria — specifically a deal to clear the YPG from the town of Manbij, just west of the Euphrates — seems to have worn thin.
The spokesman for the National Army, a Turkish-backed opposition force aimed at unifying disparate factions in northwest Syria, said on Thursday that there was no set date for the operation, which would start from both Syrian and Turkish territory.
“The battle will be launched simultaneously from several fronts,” Maj. Youssef Hamoud told Reuters.
“It will be in Manbij and Tel Abyad and Ras Al-Ayn,” he said, referring to towns about 200 km apart near Syria’s northern border.
Hamoud said the operation from Turkey might begin a few days before the move from within Syria.
In a speech on Wednesday, Erdogan said that Turkey’s target “is never US soldiers.”
Commander Sean Robertson, a Pentagon spokesman, said in a statement that unilateral military action into northeast Syria by any party would be of grave concern, “particularly as US personnel may be present or in the vicinity.”
Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Joseph Dunford spoke with the chief of Turkish General Staff Gen. Yasar Guler on Thursday.
“Dunford emphasized that the observation posts will continue to focus on and deter threats from Syria toward the Turkish southern border,” a US military statement said.
“In addition, he reiterated that the US remains committed to coordinating efforts with Turkey to bring stability to northeastern Syria,” it added.