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Israel Begins Withdrawal From Lebanon

Israel Begins Withdrawal From Lebanon As Lebanese Troops Move In, Un Force Reports

The Israeli Army has started its withdrawal from Lebanese territory and the Lebanese Army has begun deploying troops south of the Litani River, the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL><"http://www.un.org/Depts/dpko/missions/unifil/index.html">UNIFIL), which is helping to support and coordinate the operations, reported today.

The Israeli Army withdrew yesterday from Tibnin, Frun, Ghanduriyah, Marjayoun, Qulayah and Khiyam, handing over control to UNIFIL, which established a number of checkpoints and patrolled these areas to verify the withdrawal of the Israeli Army.

This morning, the Lebanese Armed Forces started the process of deployment inside the territory vacated by the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF), while UNIFIL controls a buffer zone to the south, between the Lebanese Army and the IDF.

“Significant numbers of troops of the Lebanese Army arrived this morning to Tyre, with around 500 already deployed in the general area of Tibnin, and some 800 in the general area of Marjayoun,” the Force said.

The Israeli Army withdrawal and the deployment of the Lebanese Army are planned to continue in the coming days in accordance with arrangements worked out during a meeting which brought together the UNIFIL Force Commander and representatives of Lebanon and Israel.

Under a resolution adopted Friday calling for the cessation of hostilities – which UNIFIL said is generally holding – the Security Council welcomed the Lebanese Government's plan to deploy 15,000 troops across the south of the country as Israel withdraws behind the Blue Line, and also backed the simultaneous deployment of an expanded and enhanced UNIFIL with up to 15,000 peacekeepers.

Although no shots were fired, UNIFIL said three times over the past 24 hours, Israeli aircraft violated Lebanese airspace.

UNIFIL de-mining team from the Chinese contingent continued operations to clear unexploded ordnance – considered a key threat to civilians now on the move as they return to their homes – from the area.

The Force also distributed food and water to a number of villages and has been providing medical assistance and water to a number of local villages in its area of operations. In addition, peacekeepers provided fuel to the village of Rmeich to power the water supply system there.

Ends

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