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14.50 22 Dec 2017


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Updated: 19.30

The Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has visited Irish troops based in Lebanon.

UNIFIL Head of Mission Major General Michael Beary welcomed Mr Varadkar at the UNIFIL base.

The Taoiseach reviewed a guard of honour, and also laid wreath at the cenotaph in memory of more than 300 UNIFIL peacekeepers - 47 of them from Ireland - who have lost their lives in the line of duty in south Lebanon.

Major General Beary briefed Mr Varadkar and his delegation on the work UNIFIL has been doing together to achieve 11 years of calm and stability.

Image: United Nations

Major General Beary, who has been at the helm of UNIFIL since July 2016, is also Irish.

Later in the day, Mr Varadkar paid a visit to the Irish contingent at their base in At Tiri.


The 111 Infantry Battalion are part of the UNIFIL force.

The visit also included some light-hearted moments:

The Defence Forces have had an Infantry Battalion in Lebanon since 1978, following the Israeli invasion of Lebanon.

This rotated every six months.

Its duties mainly consisted of providing a presence in the area by operating patrols, checkpoints and manning observation posts.

The battalion also offered humanitarian assistance to the local population, including giving aid local orphanage in Tibnin.

After the withdrawal of Israeli troops from South Lebanon, the Irish Defence Forces withdrew from the area - leaving behind 11 personnel to oversee the handover of the mission.

Image: United Nations

A total of 47 Irish Defence Forces personnel lost their lives during the first 23 years of this mission, in which over 32,000 individual tours of duty have been completed.

Following a return to intense conflict on the Israel-Lebanon border in 2006, the Defence Forces returned to Lebanon on October 31st 2006 for 12 months.

The group withdrew in 2007, however the Irish Defence Forces remained - with nine personnel serving in the UNIFIL headquarters in Naquora.

In June 2011 until November 2013, the Irish Defence Forces deployed a battalion of some 440 personnel to UNIFIL.

The unit is now operating as an Infantry Group under the command of a FINIRISH Battalion.

Currently, among UNIFIL’s more than 10,500 peacekeepers, some 380 are from Ireland.

Together with a contingent from Finland and a platoon of Estonian soldiers, they form IrishFinnBatt.


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