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UN probe Lebanese assassination goes to Syria

Head of UN probe into Lebanese ex-premier's assassination arrives in Syria

The head of the United Nations inquiry into the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri arrived in Syria today to continue the probe he launched after an earlier mission found Lebanon's own investigation seriously flawed and Syria primarily responsible for the political tension preceding the murder.

At the same time Secretary-General Kofi Annan informed the Security Council of his intention to grant a 40-day extension to the UN International Independent Investigation Commission (UNIIIC), set up by the Security Council to probe the February bomb attack which killed Mr. Hariri and 20 others.

Earlier this month, after naming the heads of Lebanese intelligence and security agencies as suspects, UNIIIC head Detlev Mehlis said he would seek an extension of the inquiry's three-month mandate to complete its work.

Mr. Hariri's assassination led to renewed calls for the withdrawal of all Syrian troops and intelligence agents, who had been in Lebanon since the early stages of the country's 1975-1990 civil war. Syria withdrew its troops from its smaller neighbour in April.

The extension means the investigators' mandate will now last until 25 October.

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