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suleiman army day 2Lebanese President Michel Suleiman decried on Friday the impact of the overnight rocket attack near the Presidential Palace and said they won’t make him give up his national principles.

“Repeated rocket messages – whoever the sender is and wherever they are directed at, and whatever the degree of danger and the motive behind firing them – cannot change national principles or convictions that are expressed freely and sincerely,” Suleiman said in a statement.

“The recurrence of rocket messages, no matter who sends them and wherever they are directed at and no matter how dangerous they are, cannot change the national principles and convictions that are being expressed freely and sincerely , stemming from the belief in the national interest to shield the country from what is happening around us and the region,” Suleiman said in a statement.

The Lebanese Army continued to search Friday the outskirts of Aramoun and Bshamoun in Mount Lebanon after two 107mm Katyusha rockets fired overnight landed within the security perimeter of the Presidential Palace, security sources said. No casualties were reported from the attack at 11:35 p.m Thursday.

The rockets were launched on the same day Suleiman made a speech marking Army Day Thursday where he criticized Hezbollah for its military intervention in Syria. Suleiman suggested creating a national defense strategy to control Hezbollah’s arms and centralize power in the state.

Hezbollah officials and affiliated newspapers have sharply criticized Suleiman for his remarks.

The president in his statement also called for abiding by the Baabda Agreement referring to the Lebanese president’s proposed national defense strategy.

“In order to guarantee [Lebanon’s] stability and the unity among the Lebanese, we should return to the Baabda Agreement and maintain the national consolidation amid these precarious circumstances,” the president said.

In his statement Friday about the rocket attack, Suleiman called on security services to intensify their investigations and take the appropriate measures to put an end such acts. He said he would stick to his beliefs that stem from a good faith to act in the best interests of Lebanon to spare the country the consequences of the regional conflict.

Caretaker Interior Minister Marwan Charbel said Friday it was not clear who fired the rockets because such projectiles “are available to various parties.”

Condemnations

Prime Minister-designate Tammam Salam condemned the “suspicious and dangerous” rocket attack and said it aimed at destabilizing the country.

“Targeting regions in which symbolic and national headquarters are located is a new episode in a series of suspicious security operations witnessed by various [Lebanese] regions in recent times,” he said.

Phalange MP Nadim Gemayel also condemned the attack : ” I congratulate President Suleiman on his safety after he was the target of an assassination ”

“The rockets that fell a few meters away from Baabda Palace were a clear message to President Suleiman after his [Army Day] speech,” Gemayel told the Voice of Lebanon radio station.

PSP chief MP Walid Jumblatt also condemned the Baabda attack: “Is it a crime for the president to demand the strengthening of the army to ensure that it is a sole protector of civil peace?” He said.

Commenting on the incident and the president’s speech , Maronite Patriarch Beshara al-Rai told to al-Masira magazine: “The state cannot be constructed with the presence of illegitimate weapons and all armed groups must disarm in favor of the official security forces.”

LF leader Samir Geagea also condemned the Baabda attack: “I never imagined that the president could ever be a target of Lebanese powers.”, He said

Phalange MP Sami Gemayel linked the rocket attack to Suleiman’s speech . He told LBCI:” The rocket attacks were a message to President Suleiman after the speech he made on Army Day.”

Criticized Hezbollah

Lebanon President Suleiman told the nation on Thursday during the celebrations of the 68th anniversary of the founding of the army:

” The real martyr is only the one who dies for his country to defend its land and unity. The Lebanese people want sacrifices for Lebanon and not for another country.”

Suleiman, who has been calling for dialogue to discuss Lebanon’s defense strategy , based on the Baabda declaration criticized Hezbollah’s role in defending the Syrian regime.

“It has become urgent to study a defense strategy especially that the resistance’s arms have gone beyond Lebanon’s borders”. Hezbollah is usually referred to as the resistance.

“The army’s mission would be impossible if a party or more from Lebanese people get involved in wars outside Lebanon ”, Suleiman stressed in another reference to the thousands of Hezbollah fighters who have been fighting alongside the forces loyal to Syrian president Bashar against the rebels seeking to end his family’s four-decade rule.

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