UN peacekeepers conduct maritime exercises off south Lebanon's coast

UN peacekeepers conducted joint maritime exercises Saturday off the coast of southern Lebanon in coordination with the Lebanese navy, the peacekeeping force said in a statement. The three-day operation, in which French and Italian navy units are taking part, involves amphibious landing of military personnel and equipment and is taking place off the town of Naqoura near the border with Israel, the statement added. UNIFIL commander Major-General Claudio Graziono said the aim of the exercise is to "improve cooperation and establish coordination mechanisms between the different naval and land forces involved." The UN statement said two ships from the French and Italian navies, the "Siroco" and the "San Giorgio," were taking part in the maneuvers. Lebanese army naval units provided logistical assistance and security for the exercises, it added.