Official: UNIFIL to grow in size as Irish contingent joins

UNIFIL civil affairs director: Italy may reduce troop levels, stresses importance of finding perpetrators of bombing, 'an-Nahar' reports.

By JPOST.COM STAFF
June 5, 2011 09:17
1 minute read.
UNIFIL peacekeepers at the Israel-Lebanon border.

UNIFIL in Lebanon 311. (photo credit: Courtesy)

 
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The number of United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon troops will increase this coming month, Lebanese newspaper an-Nahar reported on Saturday, quoting UNIFIL Director of Political and Civil Affairs Milos Strugar.

According to the report, Strugar said, "An Irish contingent will join the UNIFIL mission, thus increasing the number of troops."

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Speaking about the upcoming renewal of the UN peacekeeping force's mandate next August, Strugar said that the issue "is in the hands of the Security Council that will do its annual assessment and take the right decision."

UNIFIL's role and size was significantly increased when UN Security Council Resolution 1701 was passed in 2006, effectively ending the Second Lebanon War.

Late last month, one Italian UNIFIL soldier died and four others were wounded when a roadside bomb hit their vehicle on a highway leading to the southern Lebanese port city of Sidon.

Strugar, asked about the investigation into the attack, stressed the importance of finding those responsible. “UNIFIL's forensics team is working with the Lebanese army and authorities to investigate the explosion. The Italian authorities are also investigating the attack,” he said.

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He added that a reduction in the number of Italian troops participating in the UN force had been discussed prior to the attack last month, and that now, the "issue is under discussion between the Italian government and the UN peacekeeping leadership in New York."

Reuters contributed to this report

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