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Italian troops deploy in Lebanon as part of UN force

4 September 2006 The first large contingent of Italian troops has joined the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) as part of international efforts to foster the Security Council-mandated withdrawal of Israeli forces from the country's South.

The 880 Italian troops arrived this weekend by helicopter in Tyre, by boat in Naqoura, and by fixed wing aircraft in Beirut, UNIFIL said. They are from the Navy San Marco Regiment and the Army Lagunari “Serenissima” Regiment. In addition, 159 tracked and wheeled vehicles disembarked in Naqoura, Tyr and Beirut.

UNIFIL said on 10 September, an additional Italian company of 120 officers and soldiers is expected to arrive in South Lebanon.

The Italian contingent is the largest single deployment of troops to the Force since the adoption of UN Security Council Resolution 1701 that mandated an increase of UNIFIL to up to 15,000. The total number of UNIFIL troops is currently estimated at approximately 3,100.

In other developments, UNIFIL Force Commander Major-General Alain Pellegrini today met with the senior representatives of the Lebanese Army and the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) on the premises of the UNIFIL position at the border crossing at Ras Naqoura. They discussed coordinating the process of the IDF withdrawal and subsequent deployment, in conjunction with UNIFIL, of the Lebanese Army in specific areas in the South.

“The meeting was productive and I think we are on the right track in securing the full withdrawal of IDF from Lebanon and finally ensuring that the Lebanese Army will take control of the whole border area in the South,” Major-General Pellegrini said.


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