UNIFIL soldiers in southern Lebanon
UNIFIL soldiers in southern LebanonFlash 90

The UN's mission in Lebanon on Sunday called for the country's military to guarantee the security of its peacekeepers, alleging personnel were "threatened" by armed men the day before, AFP reported.

The United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) has long been deployed in the country's south -- a stronghold of the Hezbollah terrorist organization -- to maintain a barrier with Israel, as the two countries technically remain at war.

UNIFIL works to implement Security Council Resolution 1701, which ended the Second Lebanon War in 2006. It was originally created to oversee the withdrawal of Israeli troops from the area in 1978. Its mission was expanded after the 2006 war between Israel and the Hezbollah terrorist group so that peacekeepers could deploy along the Lebanon-Israel border, to help Lebanese troops extend their authority into their country's south for the first time in decades.

UNFIL spokesperson Andrea Tenenti said in a statement on Sunday that a routine UNIFIL patrol was confronted on Saturday by "a group of men in civilian clothes" near the Arab al-Louaize district in southern Lebanon.

The men "threatened the soldiers and tried to take their weapons", he said.

"Attacks, threats and acts of intimidation against UNIFIL peacekeepers... are a matter of serious concern, and we call on the Lebanese armed forces to guarantee the safety, security and freedom of movement" of the UN force, he said in a statement.

Lebanese authorities have not commented on Saturday's incident.

This is not the first time that UNIFIL peacekeepers have been attacked. In January, unknown perpetrators attacked a group of UN peacekeepers in southern Lebanon, vandalizing their vehicles and stealing official items from them.

In late 2020, a mob seized equipment from a UNIFIL convoy in south Lebanon after blocking its route.

The incident, which required the intervention of the Lebanese army, took place as the UNIFIL convoy passed through the village of Kaouthariyet Al-Saiyad on the way back to base.

The convoy was able to leave the village after the army intervened, “although the equipment was not returned to the peacekeepers,” the UN said at the time.