Irish peacekeepers have taken up duty in Lebanon at the start of their new operation there.

The 200 troops who left Dublin early this morning arrived at their new camp in Tibnin this afternoon.

They will be joined by 200 more colleagues next Monday. Most of the peacekeepers are from the west of Ireland.

An advance party of Irish troops has been in Lebanon for a few weeks and a total of 440 soldiers will serve in the battalion. It is commanded by Lieutenant Colonel Frank Bolger.

The involvement of the Irish soldiers with the United Nations force, UNIFIL, is expected to last at least three years.

They will be engaged in patrolling, reconnaissance and occupying static posts.

Tensions have been rising in Lebanon in recent months, and Minister for Justice & Defence Alan Shatter said the dangers facing the Defence Forces should not be underestimated.

Chief of Staff Lieutenant General Sean McCann said that the battalion is the best-equipped Irish group ever to serve abroad.

During their patrols, the troops will utilise 32 Mowag armoured personnel carriers and four light tactical armoured vehicles, which have recently been shipped from Dublin for use with UNIFIL.