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The BBC's Jeremy Bowen
"The real power in south Lebanon now is Hezbollah"
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The BBC's Mark Urban in Lebanon
"The Israelis left behind a power vacuum"
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Lebanese Prime Minister, Salim Al-Hoss
"The fact is, they were defeated"
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Saturday, 27 May, 2000, 11:25 GMT 12:25 UK
Lebanese return south
Irish UN peackeepers on patrol
UN begins patrols in newly evacuated areas
The Lebanese Government has instructed its police to deploy in the southern part of the country after the rapid withdrawal of Israeli troops and their proxy forces earlier this week.

However, reports that the Lebanese army had been instructed to return to the border zone have been described as completely untrue.

Prime Minister, Salim Al Hoss, told the BBC this would contravene resolutions by the United Nations, whose peace-keepers have begun patrolling the former buffer zone.

About 600 armed police forces have been sent the newly evacuated areas.

The militant Islamic group, Hezbollah, which moved into the region as the Israelis withdrew, says its fighters will leave the area within a matter of days.

The UN special envoy, Terje Larsen
Special envoy Terje Larsen said UN troops would be deployed in permanent positions
Reports from Israel say the army has closed its northern border with Lebanon and UN forces on the other side have enforced a similar order on the internationally recognised frontier.

The UN, who along with the Lebanese Government were caught off guard by the Israeli withdrawal, has deployed troops to begin patrols in the former buffer zone. The first UN reinforcements are expected to arrive in Lebanon in the coming days.

UN special envoy Terje Larsen said 4,500 UN troops would be deployed in permanent positions up to the Israeli border after the organisation had verified full Israeli withdrawal.


Hezbollah leader, Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah addressed a victory rally on Friday at Bint Jbeil, near the border with Israel.

Sheikh Nasrallah at the rally
Sheikh Nasrallah called for prisoners held by Israel to be returned
Tens of thousands of supporters heard Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah pray to God "that the victory be fulfilled with the liberation of the whole territory and the release of all prisoners."

He was referring to an area known as the Shebaa farms on Lebanon's borders with Syria but occupied by Israel since 1967.

Sheikh Nasrallah said Israel had no alternative, saying that Hezbollah "considers that all occupied Lebanese territory must be restored."

But the Shia Muslim leader did not speak about the consequences if Israel refrained.

The Hezbollah leader has also called for a severe punishment of those who "collaborated" with Israel during its years of occupation.

Glimmer of peace

His speech followed a statement from Hezbollah - which fought to drive the Israeli army out of Lebanon - that its fighters will soon pull out of southern Lebanon, now that the Israelis have withdrawn.

Syrian Foreign Minister Farouq al-Shara earlier welcomed Israeli leader Ehud Barak's call to "extend a hand for peace," but warned that the Arabs had had enough of Israel's muscle-flexing.

Israel is disappointed because it hoped to provoke sectarian troubles in south Lebanon

Syrian FM Farouq al-Shara
"If there was anything wrong, it would come from the Israel side. It would only take place because the Israelis want to extend their muscles," Mr Shara said after meeting European Union officials in Lisbon.

Israel has warned it will hold Damascus and Beirut responsible for any attacks by guerrillas who have taken control of the area vacated by Israel forces.

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See also:

26 May 00 | Middle East
Analysis: Lebanon's fragile peace
25 May 00 | Middle East
Race to fill Lebanon vacuum
25 May 00 | Middle East
Israel urges peace with Lebanon
24 May 00 | Middle East
UN assesses Lebanon role
23 May 00 | Middle East
Hezbollah chief warns Israel
24 May 00 | Media reports
Israeli press: Pullout recalls Saigon
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