NEW: Hezbollah rejects Juppe's accusation
Syria says France is "adopting conspiracy theories"
France's foreign minister: "Strong reason" to believe Syria was behind the attack
Five French U.N. troops were wounded in a blast Friday
Syria on Monday denied involvement in last week’s bombing that wounded French U.N. troops in Lebanon.
The Syrian Foreign Ministry accused France of adopting conspiracy theories about the attack.
The remarks came after French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe said it was “probable” that Syria was involved.
Friday’s attack was one of several on peacekeepers in the region this year. The bomb went off near a U.N. patrol vehicle in southern Lebanon, wounding five French U.N. troops. A civilian was also wounded, Lebanon’s National News Agency reported.
Andrea Tenenti, deputy spokesman for the U.N. Interim Force in Lebanon, known as UNIFIL, said the injuries suffered were light.
French and Lebanese officials roundly condemned the strike, which occurred east of the city of Tyre and near the town of Burj Al Shamali.
Speaking Sunday evening to France’s TV5 Monde, Juppe said, “We have strong reason to believe these attacks came from there (Syria). … We think it’s most probable, but I don’t have proof.”
Asked whether Syria uses Hezbollah “for that kind of attack,” Juppe responded, “Absolutely.”
Hezbollah, the Shiite militant group in Lebanon, receives financial and political assistance from Syria.
Hezbollah said last week’s attack was “aimed against Lebanon’s security and stability” and called on “the security apparatuses to exert all efforts to put an end to such attacks.”
Syrian Foreign Ministry spokesman Jihad Makdissi responded Monday to Juppe’s remarks, strongly denying any involvement in the “reprehensible act,” Syrian state-run news agency SANA reported.
“It seems that the French foreign minister is now adopting conspiracy theories, which he accuses others of doing,” Makdissi added.
Hezbollah issued a statement saying it was surprised by Juppe’s “behavior.” It called on him “to correct his position, and pay heed to the seriousness of this kind of accusations which represent great injustice, and which Hezbollah completely reject.”
U.N. Interim Force in Lebanon monitors the cessation of hostilities between Lebanon and Israel. It has been in southern Lebanon since the nation’s 1978 conflict with Israel. After the 2006 war between Israel and Lebanon’s Hezbollah militia, the peacekeepers’ mandate was expanded to include helping Lebanon keep the country’s south “free of any armed personnel, assets and weapons” other than government troops.
In July, an explosion in the port city of Sidon left six French troops wounded. And in May, a blast wounded six Italian troops from the 15,000-member contingent.
CNN’s Josh Levs, Nada Husseini, Amir Ahmed and Niki Cook contributed to this report.