- Title: LEBANON: Italian troops set up temporary camp in south Lebanon
- Date: 3rd September 2006
- Summary: SOLDIER EATING MEAL FROM TIN
- Embargoed: 18th September 2006 13:00
- Location: Lebanon
- Country: Lebanon
- Topics: Defence / Military
- Reuters ID: LVAE5W1QVHE3MU328OIK55VL4DSQ
- Story Text: Italian soldiers set up their temporary camp in south Lebanon on Sunday (September 3).
The Italians will make up the largest single contingent in the force, known as UNIFIL II, to deploy in the south after a truce halted Israel's 34-day war with Hizbollah on August 14.
The advanced Italian contingent of 800 arrived on Saturday (September 2), bringing with them military hardware from ships by amphibious craft to the small harbour of Naqoura and then drive them nearby Tyre.
Italian marines, with rifles and wearing blue U.N. berets, pitched tents at an existing UNIFIL camp in Bourj Qalaouay near Tyre, ready to buckle down to work.
"If our task is going to be to patrol the border we'll do it. If it is going to be something else we will also do it. We are here and we are ready for everything," said Sergeant Christian Rollo.
"Our next step is to organise ourselves logistically, the camp and everything else. After that we will see what instructions we receive from the general command," said Lieutenant Michele Tortora.
The troops will be staying here until all the other troops arrive and together they will then move to a permanent base which will be built from scratch.
Italy is taking a lead role in the U.N. force with 3,000 troops.
The U.N. Security Council authorised a force of up to 15,000. France is expected to send 2,000 soldiers and Spain more than 1,000. Indonesia said it would start sending 1,000 troops over this month. Poland and Belgium have offered help too.
U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan has said Israeli forces who occupied parts of the south during the war should withdraw fully as soon as 5,000 U.N. troops have arrived.
The French commander of UNIFIL, Major-General Alain Pellegrini, said he expected to have 5,000 troops in two weeks.
He already has some 2,000 troops from the old UNIFIL force, which has been in south Lebanon since Israel's 1978 invasion to drive PLO guerrillas away from the border.
Pellegrini said the new force would be different from the old UNIFIL, which as an observer mission had little power to dissuade Hizbollah guerrillas or Israeli forces from attacking.
The Lebanese army has said it will confiscate any Hizbollah weapons it finds but will not use force to disarm the group.
- Copyright Holder: REUTERS
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