AFP, Lebanon’s worsening political and security situation is likely to have a negative impact on the UN probe of the 2005 murder of Lebanese former Premier Rafik Hariri, according to a UN report released Thursday. The 20-ipage document, which reviews progress made by the enquiry commission led by Belgian prosecutor Serge Brammertz since its March report, expressed concern about the deteriorating environment in Lebanon over the past few months. "Although the commission – in close cooperation with the Lebanese authorities – has put in place mitigating measures to protect its staff and premises, the deterioration in the political and security environment is likely to have a negative effect on the Commission’s activities in the coming months," the report warned.

The report, which was made available to the 15 members of the UN Security Council, pointed to the ongoing fighting between the Lebanese Army and Islamic militants as well as to the assassination of March 14 MP Walid Eido and the attack on a convoy of UN peacekeepers that left six of them dead in South Lebanonlast month. The report also takes note of the coming into force of the international court to try suspects in the Hariri murder in line with a Security Council resolution adopted May 30.

In light of the establishment of the special tribunal for Lebanon … The Commission has taken several steps to facilitate the handover from the Commission to the special tribunal at a time when the latter shall begin functioning," the report said.The report also mentions the presence of new suspects.

It will be the first one presented to Security Council after the council approved the formation of the international court to try those behind Hariri’s killing.

In his last report in March, Brammertz had requested his mandate be extended beyond its June expiration and he gave a thorough explanation of the possible political motives behind Hariri’s assassination.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon extended the appointment of Brammertz as the head of the International Independent Investigation Commission through December 31 of this year.

Hariri, who was a leading opponent of the Syrian domination of Lebanon, was killed along with 22 others in a massive bomb blast in Beirut on February 14, 2005.

Syria was widely blamed for the Hariri killing but has denied all involvement. – AFP