BEIRUT, Lebanon – Israel has nearly tripled the number of forces in Lebanon as part of its expanded ground war in Lebanon, and expects to fight for another week, despite a U.N. cease-fire deal, the Israeli army chief said Saturday.
The army chief, Lt. Gen. Dan Halutz, said Israeli troops would stay in Lebanon until an international force arrives.
Under the truce deal, approved by the U.N. Security Countil early Saturday, some 15,000 U.N. peacekeepers would be deployed along the Israel-Lebanon border to keep Hezbollah guerrillas away from Israel. (Full story)
Israel has accepted the deal, but Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said it still needs to be approved by his Cabinet on Sunday.
In the meantime, Israel has expanded its troops to push deeper into Lebanon. Israeli officials said late Friday that troops are to make a final push to clear as much territory as possible of Hezbollah gunmen to make it easier for the international force, along with 15,000 Lebanese soldier, to take over.
"We have almost tripled our forces that our operating in Lebanon," Halutz told reporters. In the first stage of the ground war, some 10,000 forces operated in Lebanon. A tripling of troops would mean Israel now has a fighting force of some 30,000 soldiers in Lebanon.