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U.N. chief says Hezbollah poses ‘serious challenge’ to Lebanese sovereignty

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The Shiite Hezbollah militia continues to operate outside of the control of the Lebanese government and poses “serious challenge to the State’s ability to exercise full sovereignty and authority over its territory,” U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has said in his latest report on the situation in Lebanon.

The U.N. secretary general provides semi-annual reports to the Security Council on the implementation of the 2004 Security Council resolution 1559, which demanded the withdrawal of foreign forces from Lebanon so that the country enjoys its sovereignty.

“Lebanese and non-Lebanese militias within the country continue to operate outside of the control of the government in serious violation of resolution 1559 (2004),” the U.N. chief said.

He added that while several groups in Lebanon possess weapons outside government control, Hezbollah’s armed wing “is the most significant and most heavily armed Lebanese militia in the country.”

“Over the reporting period, there has been yet again no tangible progress towards the disbanding and disarming of Lebanese and non-Lebanese militias as called for in the Taif Agreement and resolution 1559 (2004),” Ki-Moon said.

The U.N. chief called on the Lebanese government and the Lebanese Armed Forces to intensify their “efforts to reach a full monopoly on the possession of weapons and the use of force throughout Lebanon.”

The U.N. chief also pointed to “credible reports” suggesting that Hezbollah and other Lebanese forces’ are involved in the Syrian crisis.

“This has added a dangerous element to the situation in Lebanon,” he said, pointing in specific to an incident in Tal Kalakh, southern Syria, in which several young Lebanese men were killed in early December 2012.