France preps to back Lebanon peacekeepers

7th December 2006, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, Dec 7, 2006 (AFP) - France is ready to send drones flying over southern Lebanon to back the UN-mandated peacekeeping force there, a defence ministry spokesman said Thursday.

PARIS, Dec 7, 2006 (AFP) - France is ready to send drones flying over southern Lebanon to back the UN-mandated peacekeeping force there, a defence ministry spokesman said Thursday.

"It's an issue on which we are available to act, but we'll need a decision from the UN department for peacekeeping operations," spokesman Jean-François Bureau said.

"These means will allow us to extend the observation capabilities of UNIFIL (the UN Interim Force in Lebanon) in the area," he said.

France currently leads the UNIFIL deployment, to which it has contributed 1,650 soldiers and 13 modern Leclerc tanks. Other European countries, notably Italy, are also participating.

The beefed-up force was sent to southern Lebanon following the July-August war between Israel and Lebanon's Hezbollah militia to keep the two sides apart and prevent further hostilities.

Israel has been sending warplanes over Lebanon, ostensibly to monitor arms-smuggling routes along the Syrian border, but both Paris and Beirut have vehemently argued that the flights violate the UN resolution mandating the ceasefire and UNIFIL's deployment.

The French foreign ministry said Thursday that the UN had been informed of ""movements of arms" on the Syria-Lebanon border, though it added those have not been verified.

The French daily Le Monde quoted a "senior UN figure" saying there was "a constant and massive rearmament of Hezbollah."

Copyright AFP

Subject: French news

 

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