A platoon-sized unit of the Estonian Defense Forces departed for a United Nations peacekeeping mission in Lebanon on Tuesday morning.
The Estonian unit will belong to a 500-strong Finnish-Irish force FINIRISHBATT, as part of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL).
Head of the Estonian Defense Forces, Maj. Gen. Riho Terras, said this is a historic step, as for the first time, Estonians will stand side by side with the Finns in a peacekeeping mission.
Most of the soldiers and officers deployed to Lebanon have participated in international military operations before. The contingent is headed by Captain Mario Lementa, with Second Lieutenant Janari Jaanso as platoon commander.
Estonian infantry company will serve with FINIRISHBATT close to the Israeli border, alongside units from Italy, Ghana, South Korea, Malaysia, Tanzania, Slovenia and Fiji. Estonians will be responsible for monitoring the area and manning checkpoints, as well as other tasks.
The Parliament gave a mandate for the deployment of up to 50 troops to Lebanon on February 18.
This is not the first time Estonia contributes to UNIFIL. Infantry company Estcoy-1 was in Lebanon in 1996-1997.
The UNIFIL mission began in 1978, with the adoption of Security Council Resolution 425 and 426, to confirm Israeli withdrawal from Lebanon and the cessation of hostilities, following the Israeli intervention to create a security zone separating the two countries. As of last Monday, UNIFIL's force consists of a total 10,231 peacekeepers from 39 countries.
Editor: M. Oll