Lebanon’s Armed Forces Commander Joseph Aoun has paid an emotional tribute to Private Seán Rooney this week.
On Tuesday, General Aoun visited Camp Shamrock, the base of Irish troops in Lebanon.
He laid a wreath in honour of Pte Rooney, his three colleagues who were injured, and all Irish army soldiers who have died on UN peacekeeping duties in Lebanon. Ireland has now lost 48 soldiers serving for peace in UNIFIL, the most of any contingent.
General Aoun also pledged continued support for the investigation into Pte Rooney’s death on 14th December. Private Rooney from Newtowncunningham/Dundalk, aged 24, was shot dead in the village of Al-Aqbiya as he drove three colleagues away from ambush.
Lebanese authorities continue to question a 31-year-old blacksmith who investigators believe is the man who fired the shot that killed private Rooney. Reports from Lebanon say the man was “handed over” to Lebanese Armed Forces. The Hezbollah group denies involvement in the killing, but the suspect has been described as a “supporter” of the movement.
General Aoun, speaking yesterday, said: “The Irish-Polish contingent has a long history of service within UNIFIL since 1978, during which time it has provided 48 martyrs. I salute the members of the battalion, heroic peacekeepers, who are far from their homelands and their families to maintain peace in Lebanon and support the people of the south.”
A statement from UNIFIL said: “We appreciate LAF’s efforts in investigating the incident in Al-Aqbieh and thank Gen. Aoun for his support. We all want to know the truth about what happened and see the perpetrators held accountable. We await the results of the investigation and justice for Private Rooney.”