Hezbollah detained UN troops lost using Google Maps in Lebanon

A United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) team were temporarily detained by local residents tied to militant group Hezbollah on February 29, Reuters, Ashwarq Al Awsat and a number of Lebanese news agencies claim. 

A UN peacekeeping mission in Lebanon was established in 1978 to confirm an Israeli withdrawal and in an attempt to restore calm in the conflict-ridden country. 

It was reported that the peacekeepers, who were held in the southern suburbs of Beirut, had accidentally entered the wrong suburb and were then brought to a security committee headquarters for questioning. 

Following the detainment, the Lebanese Army took over and brought them to one of their nearby bases. 

A Lebanese security source noted, “The patrol (UN peacekeeping team) was traveling from the south to Beirut and relied on Google Maps, which directed them through the suburb due to traffic.”

READ: Refugees in Lebanon facing UN aid cuts

Deputy director of the UNIFIL media office, Candice Ardell also commented on the incident and said that they were on a routine tour before going off on a wild goose chase. 

Ardell affirmed, “We are looking into the circumstances of what happened, but peacekeepers were not harmed.  

“We emphasise that in addition to freedom of movement inside UNIFIL’s area of operations, peacekeepers have the freedom and authorisation from the Lebanese government to move throughout Lebanon for administrative and logistical reasons.” 

Since the start of Israel’s war on Gaza, Hezbollah, an ally of fellow Iran-backed group Hamas, and Israel have been clashing at the border between the two countries on a near daily basis. 

The tensions between Hezbollah, a significant part of the Lebanese government, and its neighbours has resulted in an uptick in pressure on UNIFIL in southern Lebanon and patrols are now not as routine. 

The cross-border skirmishes have killed 233 Lebanese militant fighters and 30 civilians (three of whom were journalists) since October 7. 

Ashwarq Al Awsat/Agencies

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