Turkey will remove its contingent of troops from the UNIFIL peacekeeping forces operating in southern Lebanon, UNIFIL's official spokesman Andrea Tenenti told Lebanon's official National News Agency on Friday.
The announcement came the same day that a pilot for Turkish Airlines and his assistant were abducted by gunmen in Beirut. Lebanese media said that a group claimed responsibility for the abduction in the name of nine Lebanese Shi'ite Muslims kidnapped near the Turkish-Syrian border last year, saying the two Turks would be freed if the Lebanese captives were released.
Tenenti told NNA that Turkey had informed UNIFIL of the decision to withdraw its troops on August 6, three days prior to the abduction.
Turkey will only withdraw its engineering and construction experts from south Lebanon, while leaving its contingent in UNIFIL's naval forces, Tenenti said.