UN Announces Deployment in South Lebanon, Beirut Denies
The United Nations said Friday it started to deploy in formerly Israeli-occupied south Lebanon while Beirut insisted it still had to check two border violations before announcing the redeployment.
"This is not a deployment, this is all part of the field verification mechanism," Brigadier General Amin Hoteit, who heads the Lebanese team of border experts, told AFP.
"We still have two field verifications in Yaroun and Manara and it is only Lebanon that decides when the deployment will take place," Hoteit said.
He was speaking after battalions from the UN Interim Forces in south Lebanon (UNIFIL) took up positions in the border locations of Yaroun and Manara early Friday.
Their dispatch to the border areas came as Lebanese and UN experts were still meeting to decide whether Israel had ended its border violations.
Lebanese Prime Minister Salim Hoss said in a statement that "it is Israel that has and is still preventing this deployment until today by violating the blue line drawn by the United Nations."
"Lebanon is not an obstacle on the road to the UNIFIL deployment in the liberated regions," he said.
Hoss said Lebanon's adamant insistence that Israel rectify the border violations "before the UNIFIL deployment is a basic position agreed upon with the United Nations which has worked to end the previous violations and is still working to end the new violations carried out by Israel."
"Lebanon's acceptance of the UNIFIL deployment in the presence of violations means the acceptance of these violations and this is absolutely impossible for us," he said.
"Also, the last violations were of a kind that could be rectified within hours and this is within the responsibility of the United Nations," he said.
UN spokesman Dalgeet Bagga maintained that "UNIFIL has started its redeployment this morning, with Ghanaian peacekeepers in Manara and Irish peacekeepers in Yaroun."
"It is very clear that everything had been agreed last night by UNIFIL and the Lebanese army command and the redeployment is on," Bagga told AFP.
"We have planned a second redeployment of UNIFIL troops in four other areas in the afternoon in four locations in Labbouna, Rmaich, Metulla and Hasbaiya," he said.
Each of the Ghanaian and Irish forces dispatched down to the border points of Yaroun and Manara was made up of 25 peacekeepers backed by armoured vehicles and jeeps.
In Manara, the Ghanaian troops took up position, just a few yards away from Israeli soldiers behind barbed wire, on a hilltop overlooking a post erected by Hizbollah group, an AFP photographer saw -- MANARA, Lebanon (AFP)
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