UNITED NATIONS (AFP) - The UN Security Council strongly condemned a car bomb attack in Beirut on Tuesday and raised fears about the growing spread of the Syria conflict.
The 15-nation council renewed appeals for all groups to stay out of the Syrian war despite growing cross border attacks in a statement released after a meeting on mounting tensions in Lebanon.
The council "strongly condemned the terrorist attack" in the most serious incident in the stronghold of Lebanon's Shiite Hezbollah movement since the start of the Syrian conflict.
At least 53 people were injured by the car bomb which the council slammed as a "heinous act" and called for the perpetrators to be brought to justice.
"The members of the Security Council appealed to all Lebanese people to preserve national unity in the face of attempts to undermine the country's stability," added the statement.
The council "stressed the importance for all Lebanese parties to respect Lebanon's policy of disassociation and to refrain from any involvement in the Syrian crisis." The statement did not mention Hezbollah fighters taking sides with President Bashar al-Assad in Syria even though this been condemned by the United States and other western nations.
Mrs Rosemary DiCarlo, acting US ambassador at the UN and Security Council president for July, said envoys had "expressed concern at the marked increase of cross-border fire from Syria into Lebanon, as well as incursions, abductions, arms trafficking along the Lebanese-Syrian border".
With more than 590,000 Syrian refugees registered in Lebanon, Mrs DiCarlo said council envoys at the closed meeting had "expressed the need for international support to the government of Lebanon to deal with this crisis".