The Lebanese army and the UN are preparing for the deployment of troops to the south of the Litani River, in an attempt to enforce the cessation of hostilities between Israel and Hezbollah. Lebanon is preparing to start the move of its 15 000 troops planning to be deployed to the south on Thursday, while the United Nations is aiming to send 3 500 international peacekeepers within the next 10 days to two weeks.
The United Nations authorized up to 15 000 UN peacekeepers to be deployed along with the 15 000 Lebanese troops, including possible contributions from France, several other European Union nations, Turkey, Indonesia and Malaysia. Although, UN officials have stated that there are, as yet, no confirmed offers of troops from any countries.
The plan is for UN peacekeepers to take control of South Lebanon while Israel pulls its army out, and eventually to hand over control to the Lebanese forces. This will be followed by the implementation of a September 2004 resolution, calling for the disarmament of Hezbollah, to be carried out by Lebanese troops with the help of the UN. However, the defense minister of Lebanon, Elias al-Murr, said the army would not disarm Hezbollah.
This plan comes after a UN-brokered ceasefire agreement, which began Monday morning after 34 days of fighting and over 1,110 deaths, most of them Lebanese civilians.
*this article was sourced from Aljazeera and The Lebanese Daily Star