Israeli pull-out from Lebanon almost complete - UN


UN peacekeepers said Israeli forces withdrew from south Lebanon today except for a small area north of the Blue Line separating the two countries.

"Significant progress has been achieved today," UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) commander Major General Alain Pellegrini said in a statement.

"The IDF (Israeli army) have withdrawn their troops from the south, except from the area around the village of Ghajar. "I expect that they will leave this area in the course of the week thus completing the withdrawal in line with the (UN) Resolution 1701," he said.

The Security Council resolution in August ended a 34-day war between Israel and Hizbollah guerrillas. It called for a complete Israeli withdrawal from south Lebanon and the deployment of up to 15,000 peacekeepers to help the Lebanese army extend its authority over the area.

The UNIFIL statement said the Lebanese army would start deploying in the vacated areas on Monday.

"The LAF (Lebanese army) can now provide security and stability for the people of the south who have already suffered a great deal," Pellegrini said. "UNIFIL is here to assist, and to help to ensure the territorial integrity of Lebanon."