German navy ships are sailing for the Mediterranean to join the United Nations intervention force in Lebanon. Germany is leading a naval task force which wil include units from Scandinavian countries and the Netherlands. Seeing the sailors off, German Defence Minister Franz-Josef Jung said: “It is a historic matter to be involved in such a peaceful mission.”
The German task force includes two frigates, a command ship, a tender and four high speed craft.
The mission of the 2,400 man force is to patrol the Lebanese coast and prevent any arms being smuggled by sea to Hizbollah guerrilla forces. Berlin agreed to back the mission until July 2007.
Sailors and marines paraded at the Wilhelmshaven naval base before boarding the flotilla. The multinational unit will be under the command of German Admiral Andreas Krause. It is the first time Germany has been involved in Middle East peacekeeping.
The ships will take about ten days to reach their patrol zone.