The vanguard of Turkey's ground forces arrived Tuesday to take part in peacekeeping in south Lebanon, becoming the first troops from a Muslim country to deploy in the UN operation.
The seven officers are the first of 237 Turkish soldiers who will be part of an engineering company that will deploy near Tyre to help rebuild bridges and roads.
Turkish government spokesman Cemil Cicek said Tuesday that the total number of Turkish personnel would ultimately reach 681, including sailors as well as the members of the engineer company.
Turkey's contribution to the peacekeeping force was met with opposition in the Turkish parliament for fear of Turkish troops being drawn into fighting with fellow Muslims to protect Israel.
Lebanon's ethnic Armenians community also has protested the dispatching of Turkish troops, invoking memories of Ottoman rule of Arab countries and the 1915 mass deaths that Armenians contend was genocide by Turkey.