UN to deploy 3,500 troops in Lebanon
The deployment will prop up the fragile ceasefire between Israel and Hezbollah and pave the way for withdrawal of the forces.india Updated: Aug 16, 2006 10:47 IST
The United Nations hopes to deploy 3,500 well-equipped peacekeeping troops in south Lebanon within two weeks to prop up the fragile ceasefire between Israel and Hezbollah and pave the way for withdrawal of the forces of the Jewish State.
But the process of withdrawal could be expedited if there is a "political will" as 2,000 peacekeepers are already on the ground who could monitor the situation, UN officials said.
"It is our hope that there can be an initial deployment of up to 3,500 troops within 10 days to two weeks," Assistant Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Hedi Annabi said.
"That would be ideal to help consolidation the cessation of hostilities and start the process of withdrawal and of deployment of Lebanese forces as foreseen in the (Security Council) resolution," Annabi added.
The early deployment would depend on France, which is expected to lead the operation, quickly providing troops. That, diplomats say, should be possible for Paris as 1,700 of its troops, which had gone to evacuate foreigners when the war began, still in the vicinity.
Two top French military officers, a general and a colonel, are scheduled to meet with the UN peacekeeping officials on Wednesday to discuss details as also modalities of implementation of the mandate given by the Security Council in the ceasefire resolution which ended the one-month long conflict that claimed over 1000 lives, mostly civilians, and did heavy damage to Lebanese infrastructure.