The first troops of a new UN peacekeeping force in Lebanon have begun deploying in a part of the south previously unoccupied by UNIFIL soldiers.
It reflects the strengthend mandate given to the force as part of the ceasefire agreement that ended fighting between between Israel and Hizbollah guerrillas.
Italian troops will make up the largest single contingent of the force known as UNIFIL II, providing some 3000 of the eventual 15,000 soldiers.
Several EU states will be among the major contributors to the mission.
Qatar has become the first Arab state to make a commitment with an offer of 200-300 soldiers.
The UN has said Israeli forces who moved into southern Lebanon during the 34-day war should
withdraw fully as soon as 5,000 U.N. troops have arrived.
The French general currently heading the force, met Israeli and Lebanese military commanders. He said later that the process of a complete withdrawal by Israel was underway.
Part of the peacekeepers role will be to help in the reconstruction of bombed infrastructure and French soldiers have already begun the task of rebuilding bridges and roads