First Turkish troops arrive in Lebanon

The vanguard of Turkey's ground forces have arrived to take part in peacekeeping in south Lebanon, becoming the first troops from a Muslim country to deploy in the UN operation.

    Turkey enjoys good ties with Israel and Arab states

    The seven officers are the first of 237 Turkish soldiers who will be part of an engineering company that will deploy near Tyre to help rebuild bridges and roads damaged during the 34-day war between Hezbollah and Israel.

    Cemil Cicek, the Turkish government spokesman, said on Tuesday that the total number of Turkish personnel would ultimately reach 681, including sailors as well as the members of the engineer company.

    Turkey has already sent a frigate to help an international naval force monitor the Lebanese coast, and plans to send other ships.

    Turkey is a predominantly Muslim country with close ties with Israel and Arab states.

    Its contribution to the peacekeeping force was met with opposition in the Turkish parliament for fear of Turkish troops being drawn into fighting with fellow Muslims to protect Israel.

    Lebanon's ethnic Armenians community also has protested the dispatching of Turkish troops, invoking memories of Ottoman rule of Arab countries and the 1915 mass deaths that Armenians contend was genocide by Turkey.

    SOURCE: AFP


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