Global perspective Human stories

Lebanon: UN force nears strength deemed sufficient by its commander

Lebanon: UN force nears strength deemed sufficient by its commander

The enhanced United Nations peacekeeping force sent to Lebanon this summer to monitor the cessation of hostilities between Israel and Hizbollah has now nearly reached the strength its commander considers sufficient.

Some 9,450 troops from 20 different countries have now been deployed, the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) said in a news release today.

Although Security Council Resolution 1701, which ended 34 days of fighting in August, mandates strengthening UNIFIL to a maximum of 15,000 troops, Force Commander Maj.-Gen. Alain Pellegrini said last month that he thought 10,000 might be sufficient.

UNIFIL now has 7,730 troops deployed on the ground between the Litani River and the Blue Line that separates the two countries, and a Maritime Task Force with 1,700 naval personnel patrolling the coastline to prevent arms smuggling.

Israel has withdrawn from all positions it occupied during the fighting, except for one, the section of Ghajar village that is on the Lebanese side of the Blue Line. UNIFIL commanders have been in regular talks with senior Lebanese and Israeli officers on the issue.

A complete Israeli withdrawal, together with Lebanese army deployment in southern Lebanon, is a key clause in Resolution 1701.