Some 800 Italian soldiers have arrived in southern Lebanon, the advance contingent of some 3,000 soldiers promised by Rome to monitor a ceasefire between Israel and Hizbollah. The Italians will make up the largest single contribution to the UNFIL force, which will deploy along the Israeli-Lebanese border.
Italy’s advance contingent came ashore in the port of Tyre, with children waving and cheering as the troops drove past in convoys. The soldiers will first make their way to a nearby village, which will serve as a temporary base, before spreading out along the border.
“Do you think Hizbollah will agree to be disarmed,” a reporter asked a local resident. “Yes, I think so,” he answered. “I’m happy to see the Italians,” another man said. “It’s reassuring. I deliberately got out this old (Italian) cap.” The first contingent has come ashore from an aircraft carrier that is the flagship of the Italian fleet.