UNIFIL personnel say the Lebanese Army is gradually withdrawing from Israel border area, leaving it in Hezbollah control.
As tensions build up in the north, Hezbollah continues to tighten its grip on southern Lebanon while the Lebanese Armed Forces gradually withdraw their troops from the border area. Meanwhile, UNIFIL is reporting heightened standoffs with Hezbollah, Lebanon’s Daily Star reported Wednesday.
UNIFIL patrols are finding paths blocked and former temporary observation points suddenly out of bounds in what is being interpreted as Hezbollah seeking to flex its muscles on the ground at a time of heightened regional uncertainty and aggressive postures by Israel, the paper reported.
According to the report, UNIFIL officers are privately expressing frustration at the often humiliating confrontations with Hezbollah personnel where the peacekeepers feel compelled to back down.
One officer noted that UN Security Council Resolution 1701 calls on the Lebanese Army to take control of the southern border district, with UNIFIL playing a support role.
“The Lebanese Army is nowhere near that right now. In fact, they are further away from that than before,” the officer said.
With units withdrawn in response to deteriorating security situations in Tripoli, Sidon and the north, the Lebanese Army troop strength has dwindled to an estimated 3,000 soldiers in the border district, according to various UNIFIL sources.
View original Ynet publication at: http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4374737,00.html