UNITED NATIONS, (Reuters) – The United Nations on Tuesday asked Lebanon to explain reports of arms shipments crossing the Syrian border destined for the Lebanese guerrilla group Hezbollah.
Lebanese Druze leader Walid Jumblatt, a foe of Syria, said over the weekend that truckloads of arms and missiles had crossed the border intended for “armed groups” inside Lebanon.
He alleged that the Lebanese army intercepted the shipment but allowed delivery to Hezbollah and possibly Palestinian groups.
The army said on Monday Jumblatt was incorrect and the weapons had been stocked inside Lebanon and shipped south to the “Lebanese resistance.”
“We have followed the statements about the recent armed shipments including the statements of the Lebanese army,” said a spokesman for U.N. envoy Terje Roed-Larsen.
“If this information were to be confirmed it would be an alarming development in clear violation of resolution 1559,” the spokesman said.
Security Council resolution 1559, adopted in September 2004, called for Syria to withdraw troops and intelligence agents from Lebanon and for the disarmament of militias. This would include Palestinian groups and the Hezbollah guerrillas, who dominate southern Lebanon.
Roed-Larsen, who reports on compliance with resolution 1559, asked the Lebanese government for an explanation on Tuesday, U.N. officials told Reuters.
On Oct. 26, Roed-Larsen issued a report that cited “an increasing influx of weaponry and personnel from Syria to some of these groups.” It said Syria acknowledged arms and people were being smuggled “albeit in both directions.”
Asked about the reports, U.S. Ambassador John Bolton told reporters: “I think it is clear that any assistance that Syria is giving, which it is, to the continued supply of weapons to armed groups inside Lebanon, is a violation of 1559.”
Jumblatt also said the main reason for Hezbollah to have arms was to attack Israel’s occupation of the Shebaa Farms in the false belief they were Lebanese territory.
This, he said, contradicted legitimate maps from 1962, which, as the United Nations has said, puts the Shebaa Farms inside Syria.
Other maps produced since then, he said, were forgeries. “Lebanon should not remain an open battlefield against Israel and this state-within-state status should end,” Jumblatt said.