The United Kingdom has delivered military defense equipment to the Lebanese Army to deal with the jihadist threat on its eastern border with Syria, the British Embassy announced Wednesday.
The donation, worth $16 million, includes 164 Land Rovers, 1,500 sets of body armor, a secure radio communication network, border watchtowers, and HESCO bastions to protect Army positions along the frontier.
The donation was announced one day after a meeting between UK Chief of the Defense Staff General Sir Nicholas Houghton and Lebanese Army Commander General Jean Kahwaji.
“I am impressed by the work done by the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) to safeguard Lebanon's security and sovereignty and contain the overspill from Syria,” Houghton said after the meeting, according to a statement issued Wednesday.
“As part of this commitment, the U.K. intends to expand its ongoing 'train and equip' program to strengthen the Land Border Regiments of the Lebanese Armed Forces,” he added
The regiments supported by the program will monitor 150 kilometers of Lebanon’s border with Syria.
The Lebanese Army has been receiving increased military aid from different states in recent years to contain the spillover of violence caused by the Syrian war.
Saudi Arabia pledged the two largest military donations totaling $4 billion.
The latest of the two, a $1 billion aid package that former Prime Minister Sa'ad Hariri announced and claimed responsibility for facilitating, is expected to be delivered soon. Justice Minister Ashraf Rifi announced Wednesday that the contracts for the equipment worth one third of the aid had already been signed.
As for the earlier $3 billion aid announced by Saudi King Abdullah Bin Abdel-Aziz, it will come in the form of weapons, equipment and training to be provided by France.
This donation has not yet gone into effect with reports saying that the Kingdom first wants to receive assurances that the weapons will not benefit Hezbollah. (The Daily Star)
Photo: UK Chief of Defense Staff Gen. Sir. Nicholas Houghton (center) sitting near British Ambassador to Lebanon Tom Fletcher during a gathering in which a military aid package was delivered to the Lebanese Army.
Source: British Embassy in Beirut