Lebanese army deploys in more territory vacated by Israel, UN reports

Lebanese army deploys in more territory vacated by Israel, UN reports

The Lebanese army today began deploying troops in one of the last positions that Israel still occupied in the south of the country after this summer’s war with Hizbollah, the United Nations peacekeeping mission reported.

Lebanese troops moved in after the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) confirmed that Israel had withdrawn its forces from most of the surrounding area of Ghajar village as agreed upon earlier this week.

Israeli soldiers still remain in the northern part of Ghajar inside Lebanese territory, and in the immediate vicinity of the village, which straddles the line separating the two sides, the only post Israel still holds following its withdrawal from all other positions on 1 October.

The latest Israeli withdrawal and Lebanese deployment followed a meeting on Tuesday between UNIFIL Force Commander Major-General Alain Pellegrini with senior officers from both sides.

A complete Israeli withdrawal from Lebanon, together with Lebanese army deployment in the area, is a key clause in UN Resolution 1701 that ended the 34 days of fighting in August.

The resolution also mandates strengthening UNIFIL to a maximum of 15,000 troops. At present it has some 9,500 troops on the ground and patrolling the coastline against arms smuggling.