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French Troops Deploy in Lebanon to Enforce Truce


French troops are arriving in Lebanon to police the ceasefire between Israel and the Islamic militant group, Hezbollah. Israeli forces, which pounded Lebanon for 34 days, are preparing to pull out.

A ship carrying 200 French troops docked in Beirut, beefing up an international force that will eventually number 15,000. The French brought 100 military vehicles, including armored personnel carriers, trucks and tanks. Weapons include artillery and anti-aircraft missiles.

It marks the first major deployment by France, which is contributing 2,000 troops, and will lead the U.N. peacekeeping mission in South Lebanon. The U.N. force will work alongside 15,000 Lebanese army troops to enforce the ceasefire between Israel and Hezbollah.

Israeli government spokeswoman Miri Eisen says this will clear the way for the Israel Defense Forces, or IDF, to withdraw from Lebanon.

"One of the reasons the IDF now are talking about the possibility of leaving is because of the arrival of international forces. We've already seen thousands of troops," she said.

About 3,500 international troops are already in Lebanon, and more are on the way from France, Italy, Spain and Turkey, among others. Eisen says that builds confidence.

"If there are 5,000 troops on the ground in southern Lebanon, Israel would like to depart from southern Lebanon."

U.N. officials say that should happen soon, so Israel plans to have all of its troops out of Lebanon by Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, in two weeks.

The arrival of French troops comes a day after Israel lifted its crippling air and sea blockade of Lebanon, imposed at the beginning of the war eight weeks ago.

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