Lebanon detains Hezbollah supporter in probe of Irish U.N. peacekeeper’s killing

The Lebanese army has detained a suspect in the recent killing of an Irish United Nations peacekeeper in a move coordinated with the powerful armed group Hezbollah over the weekend, two security sources and a Hezbollah spokesperson said.

The man is a supporter of the Iran-backed armed group and heavyweight political party, but not a member of the group, he added.

The security sources said the man was suspected of firing shots at a United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) vehicle that was travelling through south Lebanon on December 15.

Private Sean Rooney, aged 23, was killed and three others injured – one in critical condition – on December 14 when their UNIFIL vehicle was attacked near the village of al-Aqbiya in the country’s south.

It was the first fatal attack on UN peacekeepers in Lebanon since 2015.“The main shooter has been arrested by security forces after Hezbollah handed him over hours ago,” a security official said, declining to be identified because he was not authorised to speak to the media.

Hezbollah has officially denied involvement in the incident, calling the killing an “unintentional incident” that took place solely between the town’s residents and UNIFIL.The two-vehicle convoy was carrying eight personnel and was travelling to Beirut as two of the members were returning to Ireland on compassionate leave, Irish Defence Forces Chief of Staff Seán Clancy said.

UNIFIL has operated in Lebanon since 1978 to maintain peace along its border with Israel. It was expanded after a UN resolution that halted the 2006 Israel-Hezbollah war in southern Lebanon.

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