Jumblatt is one of the most outspoken Lebanese critics of Hezbollah and Syria gives political and logistical support to the group.

 

'State within state'

 

"The Lebanese army should have... entered the areas between Lebanon and Syria that are off-limits"

Walid Jumblatt, leader of Lebanon's Druze community and a key member of the March 14 majority bloc

Calling Hezbollah "a state within a state", Jumblatt said the Shia organisation had army and security units running in parallel with those of Lebanon's government.

 

"There is a Hezbollah army alongside the Lebanese army," he said.

 

"There is Hezbollah intelligence alongside Lebanese [army] intelligence and there are Lebanese territories that the army is prohibited from entering.

 

"The Lebanese army should have... entered the areas between Lebanon and Syria that are off-limits."

 

Mahmoud Komati, the deputy leader of Hezbollah's political bureau, said Jumblatt's "accusations are part of the conspiracy against the resistance".

 

The Hezbollah-led political opposition in Lebanon has been locked in a bitter struggle with the US-backed government of Fouad Siniora in an attempt to form a national unity government with veto rights in the cabinet.

 

UN draft

 

Jumblatt's comments come after France this week circulated a draft UN Security Council statement expressing "serious concern" at reports of illegal arms transfers across the Lebanon-Syria border.

 

The draft, circulated among UN security council members on Thursday, welcomes the Lebanese government's "determination" to prevent transfers of weapons.

 

Such transfers are banned under UN resolution 1701, which ended last summer's war between Hezbollah and Israel.

 

The draft resolution urges all countries, especially Syria and Iran, who support Hezbollah, to enforce the arms embargo.