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Ban appoints new military commander for UN mission in Lebanon

10 December 2009 – Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today announced the appointment of a Spanish Major General as Force Commander of the United Nations peacekeeping operation in Lebanon, where Israel fought a 34-day war with Hizbollah in 2006.

Major General Alberto Asarta Cuevas will head the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL), which he served from December 2008 to April this year as Sector East Commander.

He succeeds Major General Claudio Graziano of Italy, whose tour of duty is slated to end on 28 January 2010 after three years. The Secretary-General expressed his gratitude to Major General Graziano for “his outstanding service and leadership of UNIFIL.”

In 2006, the Security Council adopted Resolution 1701, which expanded UNIFIL – currently around 13,000 military personnel – and called for an end to hostilities, respect for the so-called Blue Line separating the Israeli and Lebanese sides, disarming militias including Hizbollah, and an end to arms smuggling.

Major General Asarta Cuevas will leave his role as Advisor to the Chief of Staff of the Spanish Army to take up his new post at UNIFIL, bringing with him wide-ranging experience in commanding troops and first-hand knowledge of UN peacekeeping.

Among his notable postings was a 2003 deployment with international forces in Iraq as the Deputy Brigade Commander of the Spanish contingent, as well as two tours to Bosnia and Herzegovina in the late 1990s and early 2000s with the NATO Stabilization Force (SFOR), and a stint in the UN Military Observer Group in Central America (ONUCA) in 1991.

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