In addition to the 2,000 soldiers stationed in southern Lebanon as part of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL – in place since 1978), 3,500 new United Nations (UN) troops have been pledged as peacekeepers from several countries – 2,000 of them from Bangladesh.
France, the country expected to lead the peacekeeping force, offered just 200 soldiers, which came as a disappointment to some, who had expected a more robust offering from France. There are already 200 French soldiers serving with the UNIFIL contingent in southern Lebanon.
Bangladesh pledged two mechanized infantry battalions, Indonesia pledges one mechanized battalion and an engineering company, Malaysia pledged one mechanized battalion and Nepal pledged one
mechanized battalion. Battalions range from 600 to 1,000 soldiers.
The UN force will not be charged with disarming the Lebanese resistance group Hezbollah, but will be expected to enforce an arms embargo to prevent the import of weapons into Lebanon.
U.S. Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice said that Hezbollah fighters will be expected to disarm voluntarily, and that, if they refuse, "one would have to assume that there will be others who are willing to call Hezbollah what we are willing to call it, which is a terrorist organization."
The United States has termed Hezbollah as a terrorist organization, despite the fact that the group engaged in no attacks after a ceasefire with Israel in 2000, and had attempted numerous diplomatic means to get Israel to adhere to its commitment to release Lebanese prisoners, a commitment that was made as part of the 2000 ceasefire agreement and was never carried out. Despite almost daily violations of Lebanese air space by Israeli war planes, and the murders of a number of Lebanese citizens by Israeli soldiers along the border over the six years of truce, Hezbollah took no military action against Israel. The capture of two Israeli soldiers, and killing of three, in disputed border territory, on July 13th, was the first military action taken by Hezbollah against Israel in six years.