900 French troops due in Lebanon mid-September

29th August 2006, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, Aug 29, 2006 (AFP) - A 900-man French battalion equipped with 13 tanks and heavy artillery will arrive in south Lebanon by September 15 to beef-up the international force there, the military said on Tuesday.

PARIS, Aug 29, 2006 (AFP) - A 900-man French battalion equipped with 13 tanks and heavy artillery will arrive in south Lebanon by September 15 to beef-up the international force there, the military said on Tuesday.

Part of France's 2,000-strong overall contribution to the UN force, the battalion is equipped with 13 Leclerc armoured tanks, the most powerful in the French military, a spokesman for the armed forces chief of staff said.

It will include two mechanised infantry units, two artillery units and a logistical supply unit, equipped with 155-millimetre canons, a short-range anti-aerial defence system and a Cobra radar, he said.

Due to travel to Lebanon by sea, it is the first of two extra battalions pledged by President Jacques Chirac last week to reinforce the 400 French troops already serving in the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL).

The force, which will remain under French command until February, is set to swell from 1,990 to a maximum of 15,000 international troops under UN Security Council Resolution 1701.

Under the text, it is to patrol southern Lebanon, enforcing a fragile ceasefire that ended a month of deadly Israeli strikes on the country and rocket attacks by Hezbollah militants against Israel.

The expanded force is to support the Lebanese army as it takes up positions in southern Lebanon, formerly a Hezbollah-controlled zone, and help in humanitarian work.

The resolution says UNIFIL will "take all necessary action in areas of deployment of its forces, and as it deems within its capabilities, to ensure that its area of operations is not utilised for hostile activities of any kind."

Copyright AFP

Subject: French news

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