French troops to arrive in Lebanon in mid-Sept.

A battalion of 900 French soldiers will arrive in Lebanon in mid-September to help boost the UN peacekeeping force there, the Defense Ministry said Tuesday. France now has about 400 soldiers in the force, known as UNIFIL, and plans to expand that number to 2,000. About 900 French troops are expected to depart by boat for Lebanon and arrive by Sept. 15, along with tanks, other vehicles and heavy artillery, the ministry said in a statement. Most of the troops are from the 2nd Armored Brigade based in the central city of Orleans, the ministry said. The exact date of their departure is not yet set. French President Jacques Chirac disappointed many in the international community earlier this month by initially pledging only 200 more troops for the strengthened force, in addition to the 200 France already had in UNIFIL. On Thursday, he brought the figure up to a total of 2,000.