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Syrian 'vortex' threatens Lebanon

Feb. 27, 2013 at 11:38 AM

UNITED NATIONS, Feb. 27 (UPI) -- Escalating conflicts in the Middle East threaten to engulf neighboring countries like Lebanon into a "vortex" of unrest, a U.N. official said.

U.N. Undersecretary-General for Political Affairs Jeffrey Feltman said there were risks in the region, ranging from Syrian war to rocket fire from Gaza into Israel, that threatened stability in the Middle East.

More work, he said, was needed to achieve a two-state solution to the Palestinian crisis, though he warned the crisis in Syria "churns more forcefully each day and threatens to pull its neighbors, most notably, Lebanon, into its vortex."

Feltman, in his regular briefing before the U.N. Security Council, said action was needed as the Syrian conflict starts to spread but any moves must be calculated.

"We are concerned at any actions that risk drawing Lebanon into the conflict in Syria," he said.

A military judge in Lebanon last week called for the death penalty for former Information Minister Michel Samaha and Syrian Maj. Gen. Ali Mamlouk. They were charged in August with plotting to kill key political figures and launch terrorist attacks in the country from Damascus. Samaha is in Lebanese custody.

The British government last week said it would help train Lebanese forces, saying they have a critical role to play in regional security.

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