Spanish troops arrive for UN force

Total contribution to reach 1,100; Indonesia postpones deployment till Oct.

spanish peacekeepers (photo credit: AP [file])
spanish peacekeepers
(photo credit: AP [file])
Hundreds of Spanish troops landed at the southern Lebanese port city of Tyre on Friday, part of Spain's contribution to an enhanced UN peacekeeping force for the war-battered region. The troops rolled ashore in amphibious military vehicles on a popular tourist beach after offloading from two Spanish warships off the Lebanese coast. About 480 soldiers from the Spanish marines expeditionary unit were landing to join an advance detachment that arrived days ago. Another 90 troops were set to arrive a day later. By Saturday, Spain will have brought around 600 troops into south Lebanon, the first phase of a deployment eventually to total about 1,100 in the coming weeks. Spain will be the third largest contributor to the UN force, after France and Italy. The full Spanish contingent will be in place in October. "We will be coming in wave after wave between now and tomorrow," said Lt. Col. Francisco Mujica, second in command for the amphibious force. Peacekeepers from France and Spain are to move into the south in the next few days to reinforce the UN peacekeeping mission, joining Italians, Ghanaians and Indians already on the ground. The Indonesian military, initially slated to send 1,000 peacekeepers to Lebanon at the end of this month, said Friday that it would postpone its deployment until late October. "The government of Lebanon is so busy organizing (the peacekeepers) who are already there, there needed to be a readjustment of our arrival date," Indonesian military spokesman Admiral Mohamad Sunarto said in a statement. Israel initially objected to the Muslim country's offer to send peacekeepers because Jakarta does not have diplomatic ties with the Jewish state. The UN force, which will patrol a buffer zone in south Lebanon to prevent hostilities from breaking out again between Israel and Hizbullah, is to reach close to 5,000 by the end of the week. It will eventually total 15,000.