Lebanese troops were given a hero’s welcome as they arrived in the village of Shebaa, close to the disputed area of Shebaa farms. Locals sang folk songs and slaughtered sheep. The festive atmosphere underlines the symbolic importance of the soldiers’ deployment across the south. Shebaa Farms has long been a flash point between Hizbollah and Israel. The 26 square kilometres is occupied by Israel, which captured it from Syria in 1967. The Lebanese claim it as their own. The UN says it is Syrian.
Armoured Personnel Carriers being unloaded in the port city of Tyre were a further sign that the Lebanese army’s push into the south after years of absence is gathering momentum. The force will eventually number 15,000 soldiers positioned south of the Litani River, close to the border with Israel.