France FM: Syria Probably Behind Attack on UN Peacekeepers in Lebanon

Roadside bomb wounded five French peacekeepers in south Lebanon Friday; FM Juppe says France has 'strong reason to believe' attacks came from Syria.

France's Foreign Minister Alain Juppe said on Sunday Paris believed Syria was behind attacks on its troops in Lebanon earlier this week.

A roadside bomb wounded five French peacekeepers in southern Lebanon on Friday, in the third attack this year on United Nations forces deployed near the frontier with Israel.

UNIFIL peacekeepers in southern Lebanon, autumn 2011.

"We have strong reason to believe these attacks came from there (Syria)," Juppe said on RFI radio. "We think it's most probable, but I don't have proof."

When asked if he believed Hezbollah had carried out the attack on behalf of Damascus, Juppe said: "Absolutely. It is Syria's armed wing (in Lebanon)."

Juppe called on the Lebanese government to ensure the safety of peacekeepers in the country and said the review at the UN assess the consequences of the attacks and redefine the objectives of the UNIFIL mission.

The UN Security Council agreed on Friday to France's request for a briefing on Syria's crackdown from the UN human rights chief, overcoming resistance from Russia, China and Brazil, Western envoys said.

Juppe said Syrian President Bashar Assad had lost all legitimacy and Paris was pushing Russia to change its stance at the United Nations where Moscow has refused to endorse any Security Council resolution against Syria.

"We are trying to convince Russia to get out of the isolation that it's put itself in," he said.

Friday's attack on the UN peacekeepers followed two roadside bombings targeting UNFIL forces near the city of Sidon earlier this year. In May six Italian peacekeepers were wounded, prompting Italy to look into reducing its peacekeeping contribution in Lebanon.

Two months later six French soldiers were wounded in another attack.

UNIFIL has about 12,000 troops and naval personnel in Lebanon after its expansion under UN Security Council resolution 1701 that halted the 2006 Israel-Hezbollah war in southern Lebanon.