UNIFIL Head of Mission and Force Commander Major General Stefano Del Col today welcomed the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) Commander, General Joseph Aoun, who visited the headquarters of UNIFIL’s eastern and western Sectors respectively near Marjayoun and Shama in south Lebanon.
The two Commanders discussed issues related to the security situation and coordinated activities between LAF and UNIFIL in the area between the Litani River and the Blue Line.
Major General Del Col emphasized the importance of strengthening collaboration between UNIFIL and LAF to respond to incidents and violations effectively and in a timely manner.
“The recent serious incidents that occurred in UNIFIL’s area of operations could have led to a dangerous escalation of the situation,” said Major General Del Col. “It required an extensive engagement with both the sides to get them to cease fire and contain the situation,” he added.“Together we need to strengthen our monitoring and response capabilities on the ground as well as reinforce the security infrastructure along the Blue Line that has served us well in keeping the calm and stability since 2006.”
He continued: “The latest crisis proved once again the centrality of UNIFIL’s liaison and coordination mechanism in successfully de-escalating the situation along the Blue Line.”
UNIFIL Force Commander Del Col also emphasized the imperative for LAF support to ensure that UNIFIL’s investigations into the breach of the cessation of hostilities and related developments along the Blue Line are quickly concluded. “We have a common intent to preserve stability in the area of operations and to ensure that the area is free of unauthorized weapons and hostile activities of any kind,” he said.
Discussions also touched on the provisions in the UN Security Council resolution 2485 of 30 August that extended UNIFIL’s mandate for another year.
Major General Del Col noted that a priority for the international community and for UNIFIL is to further build the capacity of LAF in southern Lebanon.