A Lebanese joint army and police force is prepared to deploy Sunday night in the southern part of the country formerly occupied by Israel, following the deployment of UN peacekeepers, Interior Minister Michel Murr said Saturday.
The interior ministry will order the force into the south after the peacekeepers, who deployed to the Lebanese-Israeli border in the morning, finish setting up, Murr told reporters Saturday after a meeting of Lebanon's security cabinet.
The UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) said earlier that 400 of its troops had finished deploying along the 82-kilometer (50-mile) border.
The Lebanese joint force, to be led by a general of the country's security services, will be made up of 1,000 men, half from the police and gendarmerie and the other half from elite army units and military police.
If necessary, the force can call up reinforcements from the Lebanese army, Murr said.
The Lebanese force will have two headquarters: in Marjayoun, 70 kilometers (40 miles) southeast of Beirut, and Bint Jbeil, 20 kilometers (12 miles) farther south.
The force's creation was announced a month ago by the Lebanese government, which has insisted that the contingent not be deployed until UN verification of Israel's retreat from south Lebanon and the deployment of UN peacekeepers, in accordance with UN Resolution 425 of 1978.
The resolution, passed after Israel's invasion, called on UNIFIL to deploy in the former Lebanese zone as soon as the Israeli army withdrew - BEIRUT (AFP)
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