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Russian combat engineers working in Lebanon to repair infrastructure devastated during a month of fighting this summer between Hizbollah and the Israeli military
Russian combat engineers working in Lebanon to repair infrastructure devastated during a month of fighting this summer between Hizbollah and the Israeli military, will leave the country in a month and a half, the defense minister said Friday. About 100 bridges and 60 highways were destroyed in the fighting, which claimed some 1,200 Lebanese and 160 Israeli lives. Russian sappers, who pledged to work 10 hours a day to rebuild eight bridges and adjacent roads in two months, started the reconstruction effort on October 9. "The first two bridges have been repaired," said Sergei Ivanov, who is also a deputy prime minister. "All eight bridges will be repaired in a month and a half, and then all our servicemen will leave Lebanon." The upper house of the Russian parliament approved sending a battalion of combat engineers to Lebanon on September 26. Ivanov earlier said that Russia's 308-man contingent in Lebanon will not participate in the UN peacekeeping group, but will operate on the basis of bilateral agreements between the Russian and Lebanese governments. Ivanov also said Friday that Russia will spend 500 million rubles ($18.6 million) for assistance to Lebanon. "It is a significant amount in a financial sense, because the entire operation will cost Russia more than 500 million rubles," the minister said during a meeting in parliament's upper house. "But I think it is worth it because we are promoting our international image and providing a type of assistance that does not raise any questions," Ivanov said.
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