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S. Korean peacekeepers in Lebanon to celebrate fifth anniversary this month
TYRE, Lebanon, July 2 (Yonhap) -- The South Korean military contingent serving as U.N. peacekeepers here in the Middle East will mark its fifth anniversary of service later this month, officials said Monday.

   The Dongmyeong, or Light from the East, unit has been stationed in Lebanon since July 2007 and the anniversary will fall on July 19. The tenure is the longest for a South Korean peacekeeping unit serving overseas. About 350 troops with specialty in infantry, engineering, medicine, transportation and maintenance are based in Lebanon.

   In the past five years, the Dongmyeong unit has handled patrolling and has helped the Lebanese armed forces improve their operational capabilities, officials said. The South Korean peacekeepers have been credited with bringing stability to Lebanon by carrying out combined operations with the local military against illegal forces.

   According to the Dongmyeong unit, Maj. Gen. Paolo Serra, the commanding general of the U.N. Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL), has also praised the South Korean troops for their "outstanding" execution and preparations.

  


A key mission for the Dongmyeong unit is to block the entry of weapons and ammunitions into Tyre, a southern city lying 20 kilometers from the border with Israel. Officials said the unit has reported no incident over the past five years.

   Dongmyeong troops have also carried out humanitarian missions. Their medics have treated more than 90 percent of patients among local residents and have built schools, gyms and other public facilities.

   Officials said 740 residents have taken lessons for taekwondo and 435 people have finished their Korean language and computer classes.

   "During the (1950-53) Korean War, Lebanon provided us with US$50,000 worth of aid," said Army Col. Ha Jong-sik, the commander of the Dongmyeong unit. "And our peacekeeping and civilian operations today show we've developed into a military and economic power that can help Lebanon and other countries in the world."

  (END)
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