France warns against Lebanon travel, joining Western states

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France on Tuesday joined several Western countries in warning its citizens to avoid travel to Lebanon as the security situation remains tense and as some airlines suspended flights.

Since Hamas attacked on October 7 triggering war between Israel and the Gaza-based militants, the Lebanese-Israel border has seen near daily tit-for-tat incidents involving Lebanon’s Hezbollah or Palestinian groups including Hamas.

At least 18 have been killed on the Lebanese side, including a Reuters journalist and two other civilians, while on the Israeli side, at least three people have been killed.

“Given security tensions in the region and particularly on Lebanon’s southern border, French travellers planning a trip to Lebanon are not advised to go there,” the French foreign ministry said in a statement on its website.

France on Monday warned Lebanese officials to avert war with Israel, and the United States has urged Hezbollah to stay out of the conflict.

Hezbollah, an ally of Hamas, has so far limited its cross-border attacks but analysts say the Iran-backed group with a powerful arsenal could open a front with Israel if it invades the Gaza Strip.

Swiss International Air Lines said Monday it was suspending flights between Switzerland and Beirut initially until October 28 due to unrest on the border.

Germany’s Lufthansa has suspended flights until October 22, the airline’s website says.

Middle East Airlines, Lebanon’s national carrier, relocated five of its 24 planes to the Istanbul airport as a temporary “pre-emptive step” in light of regional developments, it said Monday.

During a 2006 war between Israel and Hezbollah, Israel knocked out Beirut airport, Lebanon’s only international facility.

“Events in Lebanon are fast moving. The situation has potential to deteriorate quickly and with no warning,” Britain said in its travel advice, last updated on Monday.

“The British Embassy has temporarily withdrawn family members of staff,” the government website said, advising “against all travel to some parts of Lebanon” including border areas and “against all but essential travel to the rest of Lebanon”.

The United States on October 9 issued a broad “regional security alert” warning citizens to “take caution”.

Canada has warned its citizens to “avoid non-essential travel to Lebanon”, citing “an unpredictable security situation” and the “armed conflict with Israel”.

Spain has also advised against non-essential travel.

Germany on Sunday urged its nationals not to travel to Lebanon because of “an escalation of violence” following the Hamas attacks on Israel. The travel warning is at the highest level given by the German government.

Australia has advised its citizens: “‘Reconsider your need to travel’ to Lebanon due to the security environment”.

“If you wish to leave… you should consider the first available option,” it said on the Australian government’s Smartraveller website.

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Agence France-Presse (AFP) is a French international news agency headquartered in Paris, France. Founded in 1835 as Havas, it is the world's oldest news agency.

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