In accordance with an agreement made with United Nations (UN) chief
Kofi Annan, the Syrian President Bashar Assad agreed to deploy a
battalion of Syrian troops along the Syria-Lebanon border to stop arms
shipments to the Lebanese resistance group, Hezbollah. And on the
western side of Lebanon, a battalion of French troops have joined the
Italian soldiers already deployed in a peacekeeping role in southern
The Syrian President also decided to accept international offers of assistance for equipment, training of Syrian personnel and "international expertise." Israel had wanted international troops to be stationed at the Syria-Lebanon border, but Syria refused.
The Syrian President assured the UN Head and the world community that Syria is committed to helping maintain the Israel-Lebanon truce by stopping arms from crossing the Syrian border into Lebanon. The training of Syrian troops will be carried out by Germans, said Kofi Annan Saturday.
But the official Syrian Arab News Agency denied reports that have been made by some news agencies that Syria has agreed to a deployment of European border guards to monitor the Syria-Lebanon border, saying that claim is simply untrue.
Meanwhile, since the 8-week-long Israeli-imposed air and sea blockades on Lebanon have now both been lifted, troops sent from France and a warship from Britain have arrived to join the United Nations force currently being assembled to maintain the Lebanon-Israel ceasefire.
200 French military engineers arrived at the port of Beirut on Saturday, bringing to 3,350 the current number of the UN force. "They are the forward group of a French battalion which is due to arrive next week," said Alexander Ivanko, spokesman for the UNIFIL peacekeepers.
The UN Head, Kofi Annan, has urged Israel to withdraw all its troops from southern Lebanon once 5,000 UN peacekeepers are in place. The total UN force is expected to reach 15,000 once all of the countries that have committed troops are able to send their soldiers.