Washington has delivered military aid including weapons worth several million dollars to Lebanon to help fight jihadi groups. The French are following suit with supplies due in April.
The United States supplied 25 million dollars (22 million euros) worth of military aid, including weapons to Lebanon to help fight jihadis in its territory. The weapons would be used to "defeat the terrorist and extremist threat from Syria," David Hale, the US ambassador to Beirut, told reporters,
"We are fighting the same enemy, so our support for you has been swift and continuous," Hale said, referring to jihadist groups at an event organized to mark the delivery of weapons.
The military equipment included more than 70 M198 Howitzers ad over 26 million rounds of ammunition "of all shapes and sizes," Hale said, noting that Lebanon was the fifth largest recipient of US military aid. US weapon supplies to Beirut touched 100 million dollars (88.3 million euros) last year.
The US would continue to help Lebanon "until the job is done," Hale said.
Aid from France
Meanwhile, France also confirmed delivery of weapons to Lebanon's army in April. The two countries signed a $3 billion (2.65 billion euros) Saudi-funded deal in early November to provide French weapons to the Lebanese army.
Spokesman for France's Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius, Romain Nadal, confirmed the date of delivery with Lebanese Prime Minister Tammam Salam at the sidelines of the Munich Security Conference. The military aid would be transferred to Beirut over a period of three years.
Fabius and Salam also stressed the need for more humanitarian assistance for Beirut, which hosts more than a million Syrian refugees. The country is also home to the Hezbollah, a Shiite Muslim group backed by Iran, which poses considerable threat to Israel and has been classified as a terrorist organization by the US.
The Lebanese army, backed by the US, has been engaged in a fight with Islamist militants near the Syrian border. The most serious attack occurred in August 2014, when members of the Al Qaeda-linked Al Nusra front and "Islamic State" (IS) militants captured a dozen Lebanese soldiers. Four of them were killed while the rest remain in IS custody.
mg/rc (AP, Reuters)