UN force to evacuate Lebanese troops

350 soldiers detained by IDF forces in s. Lebanese town of Marjayoun.

jp.services1 (photo credit: )
(photo credit: )
UN peacekeepers were dispatched Friday to evacuate about 350 Lebanese soldiers and police detained by IDF forces in Marjayoun a day after the IDF swept into the southern Lebanese town, security officials said. Two armored vehicles from the UN Interim Force in Lebanon, a 2,000-member peacekeeping force deployed in southern Lebanon, headed to Marjayoun, taken by IDF forces on Thursday. They will escort the Lebanese troops out of their Marjayoun barracks in a convoy that will take them into government-controlled territory further north, the Lebanese security officials said. On Thursday, Interior Minister Ahmed Fatfat said Israeli troops entered the garrison in Marjayoun in the afternoon "and asked to share it with Lebanese troops there." He said the troops refused and wanted to leave, but the Israelis did not let them. "We consider them captives," Fatfat said, adding that the government was trying to win their release. Lebanese and Arab media reports said that France and the United States intervened to arrange for the evacuation of the Lebanese troops. There are more than 1,000 Lebanese troops in southern Lebanon conducting security duties. But Hizbullah guerrillas actually control the south. The government has pledged to send 15,000 troops to the border with Israel as part of a peace package to end one month of brutal fighting and bombardment between Israel and Hizbullah. Israel has insisted on staying in southern Lebanon until a robust international force is deployed, which could take weeks or months.