Estonian UNIFIL unit moved to Blue Line

Baltic Daily – Political/Social News, Monday, 16 January 2017, 10:43 GMT , 294 Words, © 2017 Baltic News Service
(Document BALPOLE020170116ed1g001xh)
TALLINN, Jan 16, BNS – Estonian infantrymen serving in the United Nations Interim Force (UNIFIL) in Lebanon on Sunday assumed duties at UN base 6-50 near the Blue Line separating Lebanon and Israel.
Estonian peacekeepers who so far conducted regular patrols in adjacent villages and along the Blue Line will for the next two months patrol the Blue Line directly as well as continue carrying out motorized patrols, military spokespeople in Tallinn said.
“Moving to base 6-50 in the immediate vicinity of the Blue Line means for us for the next two months first of all a change of scenery but also more responsibility, as being farther away from the main base we have to act more independently and if necessary respond quickly to different situations,” chief of ESTPLA-22 Lt. Virko Luide said.
The Blue Line was established in 2000 with the help of the United Nations to determine whether Israeli forces had fully withdrawn from Lebanon. The situation on the demarcation line is on the whole calm, but over the years a number of clashes have occurred. The task of UN peacekeeping units in such situations is to avert escalation in cooperation with Lebanese armed forces.
Staff officers included, some 40 Estonian military are currently serving in UNIFIL. ESTPLA-22 mainly consists of troops from the Scouts Battalion’s staff and logistics companies and is part of UNIFIL’s Irish-Finnish battalion.
Estonian peacekeepers, who served in Lebanon also in 1996-1997, joined UNIFIL again at the end of May 2015. ESTPLA-22 is the fifth rotation of Estonian troops in Lebanon. Altogether 40 countries are contributing to the UN mission.
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