Lebanese troops have begun deploying in southern Lebanon, linking up with UN peacekeepers. The soldiers are taking control of Hizbollah strongholds as part of the truce that brought the 34-day war with Israel to an end. Hizbollah fighters were nowhere to be seen as Lebanese troops crossed the Litani river, some 20 kilometres from the Israeli border. The UN force UNIFIL says 800 Lebanese troops have been deployed in the Marjayoun area and some 500 in the town of Tubnin.
Alan Pellegrini, the UNIFIL commander, said: “The new UNIFIL will be stronger, enhanced with more people, and above all with new rules of engagement.” The Lebanese army has not controlled the region south of the Litani for decades. Hizbollah has agreed to cooperate with Lebanese and foreign troops, but says it will not disarm or leave the south. Israel says it has begun what it calls the “transfer of responsibility” in a staged process.