UN peacekeeping force tops 11,000

UNIFIL troops watch Israeli-Lebanese border. Lebanon, 29 August 2006. (UN Photo/Mark Garten)


The enhanced United Nations peacekeeping force sent to Lebanon this summer to monitor the cessation of hostilities between Israel and Hizbollah now totals surpasses 11,000 troops from 23 countries, less than 4,000 below its mandated maximum strength.

The current total of 11,018 consists of 9,124 ground troops and 1,747 naval personnel entrusted with stopping arms smuggling off the coast, the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) reported today.

Security Council Resolution 1701, which ended 34 days of fighting in August, strengthened UNIFIL to a maximum of 15,000 troops and mandated a complete Israeli withdrawal, together with Lebanese army deployment in southern Lebanon.

On Monday, UNIFIL Force Commander Major-General Alain Pellegrini held yet further “productive” talks with senior Lebanese and Israeli officers aimed at securing Israel’s withdrawal from the last position it occupies - the northern sector of Ghajar village located inside Lebanese territory across the Blue Line separating the two countries.

UNIFIL peacekeepers continued to provide humanitarian assistance to the local population, including medical, dental and veterinarian aid, the mission reported. Also over the past week UNIFIL de-miners destroyed 1,305 separate explosive devices. These included rockets, grenades and cluster bombs, bringing the total to 15,887 since the ceasefire came into effect on 14 August.

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