BEIRUT: Turkey will withdraw the bulk of its peacekeepers from the United Nations Interim Forces in Lebanon, the spokesperson for the U.N. force told The Daily over the weekend, in a decision taken by Ankara prior to the kidnapping of two Turkish Airlines pilots in Beirut.
“[The withdrawal] will be around 280 troops and 58 will stay as part of the maritime task force,” Andrea Tenenti said, adding that the majority of the troops to pull out are from the engineering force.
He also noted that the decision was taken by Ankara earlier in August, describing the move as a “regular process.”
“On Aug. 6 UNIFIL [was] informed by the UNHQ Department of Peacekeeping Operations that the Turkish government has decided to withdraw the Turkish Engineering Construction Company of UNIFIL by the first week of September,” the task force said in a statement.
UNIFIL’s operational activities will not be hampered by the reduction, according to Tenenti, and the current troop numbers will maintain the effective operations of the peacekeeping force’s mandate.
Asked whether the volatile security situation in the country could have played a role in Ankara’s decision, Tenenti said: “There have not been any changes in security levels [in south Lebanon].”