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Lebanon

Families of Irish troops living in Lebanon leave country as Hezbollah and Israel trade missiles

Soldiers attached to the long term UNTSO mission can bring their families to the mission.

LAST UPDATE | 11 Oct 2023

A GROUP OF families of Irish troops based in Lebanon have left their accomodation in a seaside town near where Hezbollah militants launched missiles into Israel. 

The Journal has learned that the families, around ten people in total, who were staying at accomodation in Tyre had chosen to leave in recent days. 

Tyre is a historic city on the Mediterranean coast known for its extensive Roman ruins and artifacts – it is however a well known area for Hezbollah.

A spokesperson for the Irish Defence Forces said they were unable to comment on the situation. 

However it is understood that at least three families were living in the area and they have since left and are returning to Ireland. 

They flew out from Beirut yesterday evening to another city in the Middle East and would then make the trip back to Ireland. 

Ireland and the Irish Defence Forces have a large footprint in the Middle East.

The families are associated with a team of soldiers working on the United Nations Truce Supervision Organisation (UNTSO). It is understood that soldiers on this long term mission have scope to bring their families with them to live in compound accommodation while they are on the mission. 

There are 13 soldiers working on this mission and they are based at sites in Jerusalem in Israel, Lebanon and Syria.

The Irish Defence Forces have said they are all safe and accounted for in a recent press release. 

a-portrait-of-current-supreme-leader-of-iran-ali-khamenei-seen-on-a-wall-intyre-lebanon-june-25-2022-tyre-or-sour-is-the-fourth-city-of-lebanon-after-beirut-tripoli-and-saida-and-the-capital-o A portrait of current leader of Iran Ali Khamenei seen on a wall in Tyre, Lebanon. Alamy Stock Photo Alamy Stock Photo

The biggest contingent of Irish troops in the region, 342 in total, is based in south Lebanon in Camp Shamrock in At Tiri as part of United Nations Interim Force Lebanon.

Some engagements have been taking place in this are between Israeli and lebanese Hezbollah fighters. One of which happened some seven kilometres from where the families were staying. 

The Iran-backed group admitted this morning that it fired missiles on Israel which in return saw Israel shell and bomb the area. Three Hezbollah members were killed earlier this week by Israel.

Hezbollah said this morning that it “targeted a Zionist (Israeli) position… facing Dhayra village, with guided missiles,” in a “firm response to Zionist attacks… which led to the martyrdom of a number of brothers”.

The Israeli military said that “in response to the anti-tank missiles that were launched at… soldiers a short while ago, the IDF (army) is currently striking in Lebanese territory”.

An AFP correspondent in the southern town of Qlaileh heard loud blasts, likely from rocket fire.

On Monday, Hezbollah said three of its members had been killed in Israeli strikes on south Lebanon.

This fighting meant that soldiers were placed in bomb shelters at the base and a small contingent at an outpost which is located on the Israeli border known at Camp 6-52.    

Across the border in Syria there are 116 Irish troops of the 68th Infantry Group based in the contested Golan Heights as part of the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force.

With reporting from AFP

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Author
Niall O'Connor, Eimer McAuley and Órla Ryan