Russia to send engineer battalion to Lebanon

President Vladimir Putin on Monday gave final orders to dispatch a battalion of Russian engineers and explosives experts to Lebanon to help repair war damage. Putin asked Russia's upper house of parliament to authorize the deployment, which will be separate from the UN peacekeeping mission. Defense Minister Sergei Lavrov said an advance team would travel to Lebanon this week and the full group could be in place by month's end. He said the team will work outside of the area where UN-authorized peacekeepers are operating. "We will not be involved in peacekeeping operations, but will reconstruct the infrastructure in areas outside the United Nations peacekeeping operation zone," Ivanov was quoted as saying by Interfax.