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Belgium will command the maritime operation in Lebanon

(BRUSSELS2) Belgium should take command, from March to May 2009, of the maritime component of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) with the frigate “Léopold I”. At least, that's what Belgian Defense Minister Pieter De Crem proposed to the UN. The United Nations International Maritime Task Force (MTF) operating off the coast of Lebanon is mainly responsible for preventing the maritime smuggling of weapons intended for the Lebanese Shiite movement Hezbollah, after the end of the war between it and Israel during the summer of 2006.

First Lebanon then Atalanta. This mission should be carried out by the frigate “Léopold I” (F-930), presented as the “new flagship of the Belgian Navy”, which is currently completing an operation off the coast of Lebanon for a period of three months, from September to December , with a crew of 157 sailors (he returned to Zeebrugge on December 19). Another frigate could then (the Louise Marie) could come and serve in Operation Atalanta against the pirates during the third period (August-November).

Reduced means to deal with the Battlegroup. Belgium decided, at the beginning of November, to extend its presence in the country of the cedar until the end of December 2009, but with reduced numbers from 335 to 216 people. The reduction concerns in particular the field hospital deployed in Tebnine (South Lebanon), the withdrawal of which is necessary to contribute to the European “battle group” (“EU Battle Group“) of which the Belgian army will take command in the second half of 2009.


Nicolas Gros Verheyde

Chief editor of the B2 site. Graduated in European law from the University of Paris I Pantheon Sorbonne and listener to the 65th session of the IHEDN (Institut des Hautes Etudes de la Défense Nationale. Journalist since 1989, founded B2 - Bruxelles2 in 2008. EU/NATO correspondent in Brussels for Sud-Ouest (previously West-France and France-Soir).