The United Nation’s Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) said that the Turkish government has decided to withdraw a contingent from the peacekeeping forces operating in south Lebanon, Lebanon’s National News Agency (NNA) reported on Friday.
Turkey’s parliament recently renewed for one year its troops’ UNIFIL mandate, which was set to expire in September, but the recent kidnapping of two Turkish pilots may have accelerated the withdrawal decision, according to AFP news agency.
“The withdrawal will be completed by the first week of September while Turkish troops will continue to serve in the UNIFIL Maritime Task Force,” UNIFIL Spokesperson Andrea Tenenti told NNA.
He explained that Turkey will withdraw its engineering and construction experts unit, but will maintain its presence within UNIFIL’s naval forces.
“The Turkish Engineering Construction Unit started serving with the UNIFIL in 2006 and has since provided great support to the troops for its experience and expertise,” AFP quoted Tenenti as saying.
“What is important is that the UNIFIL preserves through such measures its on-ground operational capabilities, for the sake of actively executing its duties & mission,” he added.