Target Centermass


Italy Steps in with Lebanon Troop Offer

Filed under: — Gunner @ 11:46 pm

Bravo for the Italians and their willingness to show leadership after France unsurprisingly faltered.

Italy has said it would be willing to lead a force to police the ceasefire in southern Lebanon.

But Foreign Minister Massimo D’Alema warned his country could only fulfil its offer if Israel respected the truce, now in its ninth day.

Israel says it shot three suspected Hezbollah fighters in south Lebanon late on Monday, although this was denied by the militant group.

The incident shows just how fragile the ceasefire is, correspondents say.

Italian Prime Minister Romano Prodi said his country was willing to lead the planned international force – a task that was initially expected to go to France.


Mr D’Alema said Italy could offer up to 3,000 troops – the most substantial offer so far.


Italy’s “positive role” has been welcomed by the Lebanese cabinet, Information Minister Gazi Afridi said.

Israel has also said it would be happy if Italy led the force.

UN Resolution 1701 calls for 15,000 troops to be deployed to uphold the ceasefire between Israel and Lebanon.

But some countries have been reluctant to commit troops because they fear their soldiers might get drawn into conflict if they are required to disarm Hezbollah directly.

France had been expected to lead the peacekeeping force, but offered only 200 troops after expressing concern about the lack of a clear mandate.

Deputy UN Secretary General Mark Malloch Brown said he was still hopeful that European countries, including France, would commit more forces.

Hezbollah was unfazed during the most recent UN deployment, sometimes setting up shop immediately adjacent to UN sites. Still, with a large chunk of Italians now planned to be in the mix, one must wonder if this will still be the case. Even the Hezbo terrorists have to have a limit on how much World Cup 2006 bragging can be endured.

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