French peacekeepers land in Lebanon
Saturday, 19 August, 2006 @ 6:38 PM
Naqoura- French soldiers today landed on Lebanon's Mediterranean coast, the first reinforcement of United Nations peacekeepers in southern Lebanon.
Two inflatable dinghies motored ashore from two French warships anchored in the Mediterranean near Naqoura, about 5 kilometers from the Israeli border. Two French military helicopters hovered over the rocky, emerald green bay where the peacekeepers came ashore.The two boats, carrying about 5 soldiers each, were followed 10 minutes later by a larger vessel flying a French flag.Some 49 French troops were arriving today, and 200 more would come next week, said Cmdr Bertrand Bonneau, a spokesman for the French contingent. "Today this is the first step... France is the first country to deploy additional troops in the region," he said. Those who arrived today were military engineers, he said."They are preparing the arrival of the rest," Bonneau said. They were also bringing ashore 14 French military vehicles, he said.They landed in a harbor next to the headquarters of UN Interim Force In Lebanon (UNIFIL), in Naqoura.The French troops were the first reinforcements to UNIFIL tasked with keeping the peace in south Lebanon according to a UN-brokered cease-fire that went into effect on Monday. Some 15,000 members of a UN force are expected to accompany the same number of Lebanese army troops deployed to south Lebanon.
Sources: AP, Ya Libnan