French UNIFIL troops to arrive in Lebanon Sept. 4

France will send its first battalion of troops and a shipment of tanks and heavy armor for the strengthened UN force in Lebanon next week, the French defense minister said Thursday. Troops will leave the central French city of Orleans on Sept. 4 for the Mediterranean port of Toulon. They will arrive in southern Lebanon by ship on Sept. 10, and will be operational on Sept. 15, Michele Alliot-Marie told a news conference. France, which will initially lead the strengthened force, has about 400 troops in the UNIFIL force now and plans to expand that to 2,000. Alliot-Marie told French lawmakers Wednesday that the first battalion would include 882 troops, and that a second battalion would go a few weeks later.