BUIRUT, Aug. 17 (Agencies): Israel's military transferred control of 50 per cent of southern Lebanon to a United Nations force as Lebanese soldiers entered the region three days after a cease-fire halted fighting between Israel and Hezbollah.
The UN will hand over to Lebanon's army once the Lebanese force is ready to disarm Hezbollah, the Israeli military said. Lebanese troops, backed by tanks and armored personnel carriers, crossed the Litani River early today.
Another report adds, countries that could contribute to an expanded U.N. peacekeeping force in Lebanon were to meet Thursday to find out how the troops will operate, and UN officials hoped many would commit soldiers to he force.
France, meanwhile, wants to send a small, purely symbolic contingent to the force, and the UN is trying to convince French officials that such a decision would be devastating, a news report said Thursday.
The UN resolution that led to Monday's cease-fire between Israel and Hezbollah authorized up to 15,000 U.N. peacekeepers to help 15,000 Lebanese troops extend their authority throughout south Lebanon, which Hezbollah controls.
"The cease-fire agreement is generally being maintained: We have no reports of serious incidents this morning. It seems that the parties are determined to uphold the agreement," Milos Strugar, a spokesman for the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon, or Unifil, said in a telephone interview from Beirut.