Search

 

Cablegate: Spanish Soldiers Killed in Lebanon; Gos and Major

VZCZCXRO6034
PP RUEHAG RUEHAST RUEHDA RUEHDBU RUEHDF RUEHFL RUEHIK RUEHKW RUEHLA
RUEHLN RUEHLZ RUEHPOD RUEHROV RUEHSR RUEHVK RUEHYG
DE RUEHMD #1265/01 1771341
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 261341Z JUN 07
FM AMEMBASSY MADRID
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 2877
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE
RUEHLB/AMEMBASSY BEIRUT 0237
RUEHLA/AMCONSUL BARCELONA 2855
RHMFISS/CDR USEUCOM VAIHINGEN GE
RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHDC
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 MADRID 001265

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL MOPS SP LE IR
SUBJECT: SPANISH SOLDIERS KILLED IN LEBANON; GOS AND MAJOR
PARTIES SAY TROOPS WILL REMAIN

MADRID 00001265 001.2 OF 002


1. (U) SUMMARY. On June 24, a car bomb attack killed six and
wounded two Spanish soldiers serving in the UNIFIL mission in
southern Lebanon. Spain has 1100 troops in UNIFIL and leads
a multi-national brigade. Hizballah condemned the attack.
Suspicion for the attack centers on Fatah al Islam, linked to
Al Qaeda. Defense Minister Alonso and Foreign Minister
Moratinos have both said publicly that Spanish troops will
continue to serve in Lebanon. While the opposition Popular
Party (PP) has attacked the GOS for misleading Spaniards
about the risks faced in the mission, all parties except the
minor Galician National Block continue to support Spanish
participation in UNIFIL. Local press covered the Secretary
and the Ambassador's expressions of condolence, and the
Ambassador attended the official funeral on June 26. END
SUMMARY.

2. (U) According to Alonso's statements, at approximately 6
pm local time on June 24, a Renault packed with 50-70 kg of
explosives exploded alongside one of two armored personnel
carriers patrolling near Jiam, near the Israel-Lebanon
border. The car bomb killed six Spanish soldiers (three of
whom were Colombian nationals) and injured two others.
Alonso flew to Lebanon on the evening of June 24. After the
remains were identified, he accompanied them back to Madrid
on the evening of June 25. The Prince of Asturias,
accompanied by President Zapatero and Alonso, presided over
an official funeral in Madrid on June 26, which the
Ambassador attended.

3. (U) Alonso has not publicly placed blame for the attack,
but he noted that Hizballah had issued a communique
condemning the attack. He said that it was carried out by
people who "are attempting to destabilize southern Lebanon
and question the mission of UNIFIL." Alonso and Director
General of the National Police and Guardia Civil Joan
Mesquida have spoken to Lebanese PM Siniora about the
importance of identifying the attackers. Suspicion centers
on Fatah al Islam. PP Parliamentary Spokesman for Foreign
Affairs Gustavo de Aristegui expressed skepticism that
Hezbollah was unaware of planning for the attack. De
Aristegui said June 25 in a radio interview that Lebanese
leaders had told him that the attack was a "clear message"
from regional powers to UNIFIL. The Iranian government
announced it would cooperate in the investigation of the
attack at Spain,s request. According to media reports,
Iranian Foreign Minister Mottaki spoke with Moratinos by
phone June 25. Apparently Mottaki called Moratinos to
express his condolences, and Moratinos then asked for Iran,s
assistance. Mottaki ordered Iran,s ambassador in Beirut to
coordinate with the Spaish Embassy there.

4. (U) Alonso and FM Moratinos (who is in China with the
King) have publicly affirmed that Spain troops will remain
committed to the UNIFIL mission. All parties except the
minor Galician National Block continue to support Spanish
participation in UNIFIL. The PP has challenged the GOS's
characterization of Spain's participation in UNIFIL, asking
that Zapatero admit that he has sent Spanish troops to a war
zone, rather than "trying to hide it by pretending pacifism."
The PP and leftist Izquerida Unida have asked the GOS to
increase protective measures for Spanish troops where
possible. Alonso has acknowledged that the Spanish military
had not yet installed frequency inhibitors on its vehicles in
Lebanon, though since last November it had begun to do so for
vehicles used in overseas missions. The military initially
focused the program in Afghanistan where it judged the threat
higher. Alonso has ordered the installation program to be
accelerated.

5. (U) Local press carried Secretary Rice,s expressions of
condolence and remarks on the attack from her press
conference in Paris with French FM Kouchner on June 24.
Ambassador Aguirre opened the EU-US Conference on Energy and
Technology on June 25 by expressing his condolences for the
death of the six soldiers. The conference was attended by
Minister of Industry, Tourism, and Commerce Joan Clos. The
Ambassador also called Spanish Chief of Defense General Sanz
to offer sympathy. The Community of Madrid has declared two
days of mourning. The Embassy lowered its flag to half-mast
for one day as a sign of respect.

6. (U) Alonso was scheduled to testify to the Parliamentary
Defense Commission on Tuesday, June 26 regarding Spain's plan
to send two military training teams to Afghanistan, but this
testimony has been postponed. He will appear in Parliament
soon to explain the circumstances of the deaths in Lebanon.

MADRID 00001265 002.2 OF 002


AGUIRRE

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
World Headlines

 

UN: As COVID Deaths Pass Two Million Worldwide, Guterres Warns Against Self-Defeating ‘Vaccinationalism'

With more than two million lives now lost worldwide to COVID-19, the UN Secretary-General appealed on Friday for countries to work together and help each other to end the pandemic and save lives. In a video statement , Secretary-General António Guterres ... More>>

Gordon Campbell: On The Washington Riot And The Georgia Results

Hong Kong and Washington DC. On the same morning, the tyrants in power in Beijing and their counterpart in the White House have shown how they refuse to accept the legitimacy of any different points of view, and the prospect of losing power… More>>

UN: Guterres To Seek Second Five-year Term
António Guterres will be seeking a second five-year term as UN Secretary-General, which would begin in January 2022.... More>>


UN Rights Office: Iran Execution Of Child Offender Breaks International Law

The execution of an Iranian man for a crime allegedly committed when he was 16 years old has been condemned by the UN Human Rights Office (OHCHR) and raised concerns over violations of his right to a fair trial. In a statement released on Thursday, ... More>>