Israeli army chiefs are reportedly speeding up plans to withdraw from small pockets of southern Lebanon, and hand over the areas to UN troops in a day or so. It is understood there is a push for the UN force known as UNIFIL to deploy tomorrow or Thursday in locations currently held by Israeli soldiers. Israel had sent about 30,000 troops into southern Lebanon, taking territory all the way to the Litani river, some 20 kilometres north of the Israeli border.
Israel initially said its troops would start pulling out only when an expanded UNIFIL force and the Lebanese army begins deploying. The Israelis have voiced concern, however, that their soldiers could become easy targets for attacks by Hizbollah guerrillas, jeopardising the truce. UNIFIL already has 2,000 troops in Lebanon, but the UN gave the green light on Friday to expand the force to as many as 15,000.
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