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Lieutenant General Sean McCann (right) examines Army equipment returned from Chad with defence minister Tony Killeen (left). Niall Carson/PA Wire

Irish troops may be set for Lebanon return

The chief of the Defence Forces, Sean McCann, says 500 Irish troops could be set to return to the Middle East.

IRISH SOLDIERS COULD be set to return to peacekeeping duties in Lebanon next year, according to the chief of staff of the Irish Defence Forces.

Lieutenant General Sean McCann said the Middle Eastern country was one of a number of potential locations for further peacekeeping tours, with 500 Irish troops awaiting deployment overseas.

Irish soldiers were familiar with the area, General McCann said, meaning it was worthy of consideration as a potential venue for further missions.

There have been no Irish soldiers serving on United Nations peacekeeping forces since the end of the mission in Chad in May.

Over 700 soldiers were posted in Lebanon for six-month stretches between 1978 and 2001, when Ireland took part in the UN’s Interim Force in the country. A total of almost 30,000 soldiers served there, with 47 Irish troops killed during that time.

If they were to return, McCann said, they would not be involved in securing peace on the ground as they previously had been. Instead, Irish troops would be deployed on ‘high-visibility, low-profile’ missions.

The original mission in Lebanon came as a result of a UN Security Council Resolution to confirm that Israel had withdrawn from the country, after it had invaded the state five days previously.

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