Last updated: 24 January, 2012

UN names Italian head of Lebanon peace mission

UN chief Ban Ki-moon on Tuesday announced the appointment of Italian Major General Paolo Serra as the new head of an international peacekeeping force in Lebanon, the United Nations said.

Serra will succeed Major General Alberto Asarta Cuevas of Spain, who is to relinquish his two-year posting on January 28, the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) said in a statement.

Serra, 55, is currently chief of logistics and land transformation of the Italian army and has served as chief of staff of NATO’s Rapid Deployable Corps-Italy, according to the statement.

He has also served in NATO’s Kosovo Force and the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan, as well as with the UN Operation in Mozambique.

Italy has the largest number of troops in UNIFIL, which was deployed in 1978 to maintain stability at the border between Lebanon and Israel.

UNIFIL was expanded in 2006 following a devastating war between the Shiite militant group Hezbollah and the Jewish state and now numbers some 12,000