keep an eye on both sides, as Hezbollah arms are incomparable to Israel arsenal . We appeal UN to dismantle WMD in the region as it threatens peace and security of all. Peace in Lebanon necessitates an agreement of all partners to shape their country in the way the like, without any pressure from anywhere.
Associated France Press (AFP) 2/10/2006
Blocking Arms To Hezbollah " Not Possible "
Lebanon army deploys on border as Israel leaves
by Jihad Siqlawi
LABBOUNEH, Lebanon (AFP) - Lebanon has deployed its army on its southern border with Israel for the first time in almost 40 years, vowing to reassert control in the area by stopping attacks and arms smuggling.
At a ceremony to mark the occasion, army commander Brigadier General Michel Sleiman called on his troops to confront any violations of an August 14 UN-brokered ceasefire that ended Israel's 34-day war against Hezbollah.
The deployment "to monitor the southern borders and the maritime and territorial borders is meant to prevent aggressions as well as the smuggling of weapons and other prohibited items," he said.
"I call on you to confront any Israeli aggressions and violations," Sleiman told conscripts during a ceremony in which the Lebanese flag was hoisted on a hilltop in the border village of Labbouneh for the first time since 1970.
The army deployment comes a day after Israel's near-complete withdrawal of several hundred soldiers who had remained in south Lebanon for more than six weeks after the ceasefire.
The Lebanese army did not deploy in the area for decades because of fighting between Israel and Palestinian militants and subsequently Lebanese fighters, mainly from Hezbollah.
Sleiman said the army currently still had "meagre abilities" but was expecting to boost its capacities according to government plans.
The "deployment in the south will help the military to carry out its duties in terms of defence, security and development, with the help of the UN forces," the army chief said.
After the end of the war on August 14, Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah said his group's arsenal had increased by several thousand rockets to count more than 20,000 rockets.
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, who along with regional ally Iran is a main Hezbollah backer, has dismissed efforts to stop the flow of contraband arms to the Shiite militant group as "a waste of time."
"If a real will exists to introduce illegal weapons (into Lebanon), neither UN resolutions nor military deployment will be able to stop" their entry, he told Spain's El Pais newspaper.
"What's missing (in Lebanon) is a state in which all Lebanese consider themselves represented. If that's accomplished, it will then be possible" to disarm Hezbollah, he said.
UN Security Council Resolution 1701, which put an end to the war, called for Israel's complete pullout from Lebanon in tandem with the deployment of Lebanese army troops and additional UN peacekeepers, as well as the disarming of all militias.
While Hezbollah has agreed to abide by the August 14 ceasefire, it has resolutely refused to lay down its arms until it is satisfied Israel has ended its occupation of Lebanese territory.
Analysts say plenty of room remains for disputes, with Hezbollah maintaining its arsenal and Israel continuing flyovers of Lebanese territory and keeping some soldiers there.
The United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) confirmed the Israeli pullout after conducting patrols in the area but said Israeli troops remained in the Ghajar border zone in the east.
The Israeli army said that it will keep troops on the Lebanese side of the village of Ghajar until security arrangements in the divided village are agreed with UN and Lebanese forces.
UNIFIL commander Major General Alain Pellegrini said on Sunday that the force was "in close contact" with the Israeli army "to facilitate a speedy withdrawal from the area of Ghajar" this week.
Lebanese army spokesman Major General Saleh Sleiman told AFP that "by Monday afternoon, the government plan to deploy 15,000 troops in the south up to the border will be complete, except for the area of Ghajar."
Early Monday, a Lebanese army officer told AFP that at least 12 Israeli soldiers were still deployed on the Lebanese side of Ghajar.