Powerful French tanks arrive to support UN force

September 5, 2006 18:13

For all those who moaned about toothless, ineffectual UN peacekeeping forces over the years, France is quietly sending a new message in Lebanon: We're getting tougher. French troops have rolled out Leclerc tanks - some of the mightiest vehicles ever used under the UN flag - and sophisticated radar systems to pinpoint artillery launch sites. Paris faced criticism last month for allegedly being slow to offer more peacekeepers in Lebanon, after French diplomats led a push to strengthen the mandate of the UNIFIL force there and France took on temporary leadership. Amid the pressure, President Jacques Chirac announced Aug. 24 that France would increase its contribution to UNIFIL to 2,000 - up from 400 -backed by sophisticated equipment and firepower.

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