INTRODUCTION: Syria's Defence Minister, Lieutenant General Mustafa Tlas, visited the Syrian troops who from the major part of the Arab peacekeeping force in northern Lebanon on Saturday (2 April).
MV Guard of Honour salutes as Syrian Defence Minister, Lieutenant General Mustafa Tlas steps out of car and inspects peacekeeping force guard in North Lebanon. (2 shots)
MCU General Tlas shakes hands with officers. (2 shots)
MV Soldiers march off. (2 shots)
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Background: INTRODUCTION: Syria's Defence Minister, Lieutenant General Mustafa Tlas, visited the Syrian troops who from the major part of the Arab peacekeeping force in northern Lebanon on Saturday (2 April). The visit follows a decision by the Arab League to renew the mandate of the force for another six months.
SYNOPSIS: There are about 30,000 Syrians stationed in Lebanon--pledged to crush any attempt to resume the civil war. Many of them had been illegal labourers in Lebanon and they are familiar with the Lebanese streets and people. General Tlas was accompanied on his visit by the Commander of the Special Forces, Colonel Ali Haidar. He met senior officers.
These soldiers are stationed near Tripoli, where their presence has been kept unobtrusive and where life is slowly returning to normal after the 19 month civil war.
The majority of peacekeeping force, however, is stationed in southern Lebanon, where sporadic fighting continues. The Lebanese government is advocating a joint Arab-United Nations peacekeeping force to end the fighting there. This is in an attempt to end Israeli objections to the presence of an Arab force on its northern borders with Lebanon.
The combined force would also lighten the financial load on Arab oil states as some of the costs would be met by the United Nations. Diplomatic meetings are currently taking place to discuss the idea.