On this day 15 years ago, an expeditionary force of Navy Marines landed on the beaches of the Lebanese coast, marking the beginning of the "Libre Hidalgo" (L/H) mission of the Spanish Armed Forces in the country, under the umbrella of the United Nations.
The mission of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) dates back to 1978, when the Security Council deployed this force of blue helmets with the aim of maintaining peace in the area between the parties in conflict (Israel and Lebanon).
In 2006, hostilities broke out again between the two countries during the so-called Second Lebanon War, and Spain, under a new United Nations mandate, committed itself to this international mission by contributing military forces and taking charge of one of the sectors of UNIFIL's deployment in southern Lebanon.
Since then and up to the present time, 35 contingents originated by the different Brigades and other units of the Army have deployed. Thousands of men and women have contributed to peace and stability on the boundaries between Israel and Lebanon marked by the so-called "Blue Line".
Names such as Marjayoun, Kafer Kela, Arab Al Wazzani, El Khiam, Ebel El Saqi, Kleya, and many others have been engraved in the minds and hearts of all those who have served in Spain's area of responsibility within the Eastern Sector of UNIFIL's deployment.
Hard and constant work that has not been exempt from the ultimate sacrifice that a soldier can pay for his country. A total of 16 Spanish troops have died while fulfilling the mission to protect Spain's security beyond its borders. Juan Carlos, Jonathan, Yeison, Jefferson, Yhon, Manuel David, Yesion, José Antonio, Isaías, Julio, Abel, José Manuel, Carlos, Francisco Javier, Lorenzo, Juan, your commitment and sacrifice was not been in vain and will remain in everyone's memory.
Throughout this time, the Spanish forces have integrated contingents from other countries such as El Salvador since August 2007, Serbia since December 2011 and Brazil since November 2014. India, Indonesia, Nepal and Kazakhstan have also been and are still part of the Multinational Brigade of Sector East led by Spain under the command of a Brigadier General.
Today, the Spanish Armed Forces continue to fulfil their mission of maintaining international peace and security, helping the Government of Lebanon to re-establish its authority in the area, by ensuring humanitarian aid to the civilian population and providing security in its area of responsibility.