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    Russia sappers to fly to Lebanon in late Sept.-early Oct. - min. - 1

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    Russia's deputy prime minister and defense minister said Wednesday a battalion of combat engineers will head for Lebanon in late September-early October.

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    NIZHNY NOVGOROD, September 13 (RIA Novosti) - Russia's deputy prime minister and defense minister said Wednesday a battalion of combat engineers will head for Lebanon in late September-early October.

    "The battalion will comprise 350-400 people," Sergei Ivanov said. "It will naturally include no conscripts - only contract servicemen."

    Ivanov said the contingent was heading for Lebanon not to participate in the UN peacekeeping group, but on the basis of bilateral agreements between the Russian and Lebanese governments.

    "Our servicemen will stay three to four months in Lebanon," he said, adding that they would restore Lebanon's destroyed infrastructure.

    Israeli military operations against the Lebanon-based radical group Hizbollah in late July-early August claimed the lives of over 1,000 Lebanese civilians, forced nearly a quarter of the country's population to flee, and demolished some 100 bridges and 60 highways. The total damage inflicted is estimated in the billions of dollars. About 160 Israelis also died.

    Russia is to build up to five pontoon bridges in the country.

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