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First Group Of Spanish Troops Arrive In Lebanon

First Group Of Spanish Troops Arrive In Lebanon As Un Force Level Nears 5,000

New York, Sep 15 2006 2:00PM

Spanish troops today arrived for the first time in Lebanon, helping to boost the United Nations force to around 4,600, while Israel’s withdrawal from the south is continuing and Lebanese troops are expected to deploy into more areas tomorrow, the world body announced today.

Some 500 officers and soldiers and approximately 100 vehicles from Spain brought the total number of troops serving with the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) “up to around 4,600,” the Force said in a press release.

It said that 200 extra French troops had also arrived yesterday, while the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) withdrew from more areas of the south. UNIFIL is continuing to coordinate the force movements as stipulated by Security Council resolution 1701, which ended the fighting last month.

“On 14 September, The Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) withdrew from the general areas of Naqoura, Alma ash Shab, Ayta ash Shab, Rmeich and Yarun. By this morning, the Ghanaian battalion confirmed that there were no IDF present there. Lebanese Armed Forces are planning to deploy in these areas tomorrow, 16 September,” UNIFIL said.

Resolution 1701 mandated strengthening UNIFIL up to a maximum of 15,000 troops although UN officials have spoken of a “general understanding” that the IDF will completely withdraw from Lebanese territory once the UN Force reaches 5,000 troops and the Lebanese army is ready to deploy at the full strength of 15,000 troops.

On Thursday, UNIFIL Commander Maj. Gen. Alain Pellegrini said he expected all Israeli forces to have left southern Lebanon by the end of this month.

Ends

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