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Germany began its biggest naval operation since World War II on Thursday, as eight warships set sail for the eastern Mediterranean to join UN efforts in southern Lebanon.
The first of the ships, the frigate Karlsruhe, pulled away from the dock at the North Sea port at Wilhelmshaven and moved smoothly across the calm harbor waters after a farewell ceremony.
The German force of two frigates, two support vessels and four fast patrol boats, along with three ships from Denmark, are to arrive off the Lebanese coast in 10 to 14 days.
German Defense Minister Franz Josef Jung said the force would make a contribution to peace by supporting the UN-brokered cease-fire that ended Israel's month-long war with Hizbullah.
"Unless the weapons are silent there is no chance for peace in the Middle East," Jung said at the ceremony.
Germany is taking charge of a multinational naval task force with a mandate to prevent arms shipments from reaching Hizbullah - a key component of the cease-fire agreement.
The naval detachment is led by the 139-meter frigate Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, equipped with a 76mm cannon and space for two patrol helicopters.
The four patrol boats can reach speeds of 40 knots, or 74 kilometers per hour (46 miles per hour.)
Lawmakers in the German parliament approved the deployment on Wednesday, though some voted against because of misgivings linked to Germany's Nazi past and the Holocaust.
Chancellor Angela Merkel ruled out sending combat troops to Lebanon in an attempt to ensure that no German soldiers could get caught up in any confrontation with Israeli forces.
Germany accepting 'burden of history'
Parliament approved a mandate allowing the deployment of up to 2,400 service personnel.
Germany is also sending police and customs officers to advise and train Lebanese security forces on tightening border controls.
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