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Mandate of UN force in Lebanon extended another 6 months

29 July 2004 The Security Council today extended the mandate of the United Nations peacekeeping operation in Lebanon, backing the mission's efforts to maintain a ceasefire along the line of withdrawal where Hezbollah and Israeli military forces have been engaging in a recent flurry of deadly exchanges.

Acting on the recommendation of Secretary-General Kofi Annan, the Council unanimously adopted a resolution extending until 31 January 2005 the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL), which was originally established in 1978 to confirm the withdrawal of Israelis troops from its northern neighbour, restore international peace and security and help the Lebanese Government regain its authority in the area.

Just last week, a car bomb in Beirut killed a Hezbollah official. The following day, Hezbollah and Israeli military forces engaged in an exchange of fire which resulted in the deaths of two Israeli soldiers and one Hezbollah fighter. That evening, Israeli jets violated Lebanese airspace, including over Beirut, at low altitudes.

In its resolution, the Council condemned all acts of violence, expressing "great concern about the serious breaches and the sea, land and continuing air violations of the withdrawal line," or so-called Blue Line. The Council also urged the parties to halt violations, refrain from provocations that could further escalate the tension and cooperate fully with the UN and the mission.

The text also welcomed steps taken by the Government of Lebanon to assert its control over the southern portion of the country, including the deployment of Lebanese armed forces, and called for the extension of those measures while urging Lebanon to do its utmost to ensure calm throughout the south.

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