Italian peacekeepers head to Lebanon Tuesday

Italy is a major contributor to the UN peacekeeping force in southern Lebanon, and will take over command of it in February. The first troops leave Tuesday. NUMBERS: Italian troops will be deployed in two phases. In the first phase, from September to October, Italy plans to have an initial entry force of 1,000 troops on the ground in southern Lebanon, and the rest on the Giuseppe Garibaldi aircraft carrier and four other ships. The last two months of the year will see 2,450 troops on the ground and a remaining 200 or so on the ships. SHIPS: Five, led by the Giuseppe Garibaldi aircraft carrier. Also included are transport ships San Giorgio, San Marco and San Giusto, and a smaller frigate currently off the shores of Cyprus. COST: Italy authorized a €30 million (US$38.4 million) aid package for Lebanon, and €186.8 million (US$239.1 million) in spending for the peacekeeping mission until Dec. 31.