Despite the confusion, it seems like Italian troops could work with Syria troops to secure the Lebanese-Syrian border.
Italian Prime Minister Romano Prodi annouced that Bashar Al-Assad agreed to support the deployment of unarmed Italian troops on the Lebanese side. Syria would send 600 troops to its side of the border.
But then Syria denied the message, and Italy agreed there had been a mistake. Its likely the negotiations were still underway, and were supposed to be kept secret.
Earlier Bashar said any UN peacekeepers on the Syrian border would be seen as a ‘hostile act’. But Syria has a lot to gain from peacekeepers on both sides: first, it would demonstrate that Syria isn’t allowing the border to be used to send arms to Hizbollah.
And it would also prevent weapons coming into Syria to supply anti-government Islamist terrorists (there have been numerous battles on both sides of the border with gun-runners taking weapons into Syria, and the Lebanese Government has admitted Al Qaeda may now be active in Lebanon).