Italy is reported to have confirmed an offer to lead a UN peacekeeping force in Lebanon. However, a week after a truce came into force between Israel and Hizbollah, few other European countries have made large contributions. EU countries are due to meet tomorrow to discuss concerns about rules of engagement for the force. The UN is hoping to muster 15,000 UN troops to join Lebanese soldiers in southern Lebanon.
French analyst Bruno Tertrais says it is possible to imagine the creation of a peacekeeping force and then the creation of a rapid reaction force off the Lebanese coast, a force ready to intervene if necessary to evacuate the peacekeepers. Beirut has welcomed Italy’s offer of troops, and Israel has already said it would be happy if Italy led the force.
France had earlier been tipped to take command but it sharply cut its expected contribution to 200 troops because of concerns about the chain of command. Meanwhile, the Israeli army says its troops have shot and wounded three armed men in southern Lebanon.