More than 400 Spanish soldiers flew to Lebanon on Thursday to join the UN-led peacekeeping mission monitoring the cease-fire between Israel and Hezbollah guerrillas.
The soldiers will replace 500 who deployed in September. A group of 180 left from the southern city of Almeria to Beirut in the morning, and another 250 were expected to leave Thursday afternoon, the Defense Ministry said.
The ministry said the troops would be based near the Christian town of Marjayoun, where they will join another group of 60 soldiers already in south Lebanon since October. The Spanish contingent in the peacekeeping force will increase to a total of about 1,100 in the coming weeks.
Some 500 marines arrived in Lebanon in mid-September in the first phase of a Spanish deployment. They are to return to Spain by Nov.9 on two military ships.