A hundred and twenty Irish troops serving with United Nations forces in Southern Lebanon have started running out of food after being trapped behind Christian lines for more than four days.
A hundred and twenty Irish troops serving with United Nations forces in Southern Lebanon have started running out of food after being trapped behind Christian lines for more than four days. Their commander said on Thursday (18 January) that the situation was becoming serious. The troops were patrolling an area controlled by Israeli-backed forces when the militias barred their return to their post.
SYNOPSIS: Israeli air force planes regularly fly over the area adjoining their border, which the Christians have refused to hand over to the U.N.
The Irish troops serving with the U.N. Interim Forces -- UNIFIL -- are stationed in Tibnin, 12 kilometres north of the Israeli border. They make daily patrols to points only six kilometres from the border.
According to their commander, Colonel Vincent Savino, the Christians have made regular attempts to probe for weaknesses int he U.N. lines. He said they had temporarily taken over one U.N. position when Iranian troops vacated it to make way for their Nigerian replacements. The militias, Colonel Savino added, were armed with Israeli-supplied tanks, heavy machine guns and artillery.
Tension has grown in the area with the approach of Friday's (19 January) debate on the renewal of the UNIFIL mandate, which expired on the same day. There were fears that the militancy of the Christians could lead to renewed fighting. Tony Hull of Visnews spoke to Colonel Savino.