UN chief urges Lebanon’s Hezbollah to halt military activity

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UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres is calling on Hezbollah not to engage in military activity inside Lebanon and elsewhere in the region, in a report seen by AFP on Wednesday.

“The maintenance by Hezbollah of sizeable and sophisticated military capabilities outside the control of the government of Lebanon remains a matter of grave concern,” Guterres said in a report sent to the Security Council on Friday.

The UN chief called on the Shiite movement “not to engage in any military activity inside or outside Lebanon” in line with a 2004 UN resolution.

The Lebanese government must prevent Hezbollah from “building paramilitary capacity outside the authority of the state,” he said.

The report followed elections this month that saw Hezbollah allies make gains in the Lebanese parliament, cementing the Iran- and Syria-backed movement’s political dominance.

Guterres called on countries in the region that maintain ties with Hezbollah to encourage the armed group to transform into a “solely civilian political party” and to disarm.

Listed as a terror group by the United States, Hezbollah is now fighting in Syria on behalf of government forces and in Iraq alongside paramilitary groups, and is accused of backing Houthi militias in Yemen.

International efforts to contain the group have largely failed, including several rounds of US and European sanctions and a month-long war with Israel in 2006.

The Security Council is scheduled to discuss the report on Thursday.

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