Russia forming battalion of up to 400 for Lebanon

Russia's military is forming a battalion of 350-400 engineers and explosives experts who will be sent to Lebanon to help repair the damage inflicted by Israel's campaign to uproot Hezbollah guerrillas, the defense minister said Wednesday, according to news agencies. Sergei Ivanov said the battalion, which will not include conscripts, will travel to Lebanon in late September or early October, Interfax, ITAR-Tass and RIA-Novosti reported. He said one or two platoons of guards would also be sent, the reports said. President Vladimir Putin gave final orders Monday for a Russian battalion to travel to Lebanon. Ivanov said earlier that the battalion would include experts at disarming unexploded ordnance, as well as engineers to evaluate the damage inflicted on Lebanese roads and bridges. He said it would not be involved in peacekeeping operations.