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MILITARY

Juppé: attack on peacekeepers was ‘vile’

Foreign Minister Alain Juppé condemned Friday's bomb attack on a UN peacekeeping patrol in Lebanon in which five French troops were wounded, saying France would not be intimidated by such "vile acts".

Juppé: attack on peacekeepers was 'vile'

“I condemn in the strongest terms the cowardly attack that was carried out against UNIFIL (UN Interim Force in Lebanon) this morning, wounding five French peacekeepers,” Juppé said in a statement.

A roadside bomb in the southern Lebanese coastal town of Tyre wounded five French soldiers and two civilians when it was detonated as their vehicle drove past.

The chief of staff in Paris said four peacekeepers were “very lightly wounded” and the fifth “a bit more seriously” but without life-threatening injuries.

France is “determined to continue its involvement with UNIFIL (and) will not be intimidated by such vile acts,” Juppe said.

UNIFIL patrols have been the target of a string of unclaimed roadside bomb attacks in recent years, including two previously in 2011.

Friday’s blast came amid heightened tension over the bloody uprising in neighbouring Syria, with some warning the unrest could spill over into Lebanon, whose government is dominated by pro-Syrian militant group Hezbollah.

There have been constant fears that the UNIFIL force stationed in the south of the country would be an easy target should the unrest reach Lebanon.

The 12,000-strong UNIFIL force was first deployed in 1978 and was expanded after a devastating 2006 war in Lebanon between Israel and Shiite militant group Hezbollah.

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MILITARY

France vows to stay in Syria even after US leaves

France will maintain its participation in the coalition fighting Islamic State forces in Syria, government officials said Thursday after President Donald Trump surprised Washington's allies by ordering US troops home.

France vows to stay in Syria even after US leaves
Photo: AFP
“For now of course we remain in Syria,” France's European Affairs Minister Nathalie Loiseau said on CNews television, adding “the fight against terrorism is not over.”
   
“It's true that the coalition has made significant progress in Syria, but this fight continues, and we will continue it,” she said.
   
France has stationed fighter jets in Jordan and artillery along the Syrian border in Iraq as part of the US-led coalition, as well as an undisclosed number of special forces on the ground.
 
On Wednesday Trump said in a Twitter video that “We've won against ISIS,” another acronym for the Islamic State group, and that it was time to bring the roughly 2,000 US soldiers fighting the jihadists home.
   
It was a stunning reversal of a US policy which had vowed its support for Kurdish allies who have been key fighters against IS forces in Syria.
 
Its allies have warned that despite losing most of the territory it once controlled during the bloody Syrian civil war, the IS threat has not been totally eradicated.
   
French Defence Minister Florence Parly said on Twitter Thursday that the group “has not been wiped of the map, nor have its roots.”
 
“We must definitively defeat the last pockets of this terrorist organisation,” she said.
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