It was an historic moment, for the first time in decades, Lebanese troops have deployed in the south of the country, an area long controlled by Hizbollah. As part of a UN ceasefire agreement, an initial deployment of some 2,500 Lebanese soldiers crossed the Litani river to join UN peacekeepers in taking control of militia strongholds. It is a big step for a relatively under-equipped and untested force; the first move towards the government reasserting full control over the entire country.
Although Beirut said its soldiers will not tolerate the presence of armed groups it is unclear how vigorously the army will search for militia weapons. A Lebanese cabinet decision did not mention any withdrawal of Hizbollah nor the decommissioning of rockets. Many militants are from border villages and Lebanese officials are believed to think that it would be impossible to keep them from their homes.
And in the southern village of Aytaroun, armed men believed to be from Hizbollah could be seen on the streets one day before the Lebanese army was deployed. Hizbollah has pledged to help those made homeless in the conflict with repairs, rebuilding and rental costs.