Lebanese Army Receives Military Aid from Jordan

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Al-Akhbar Management

Published Tuesday, February 24, 2015

The Lebanese army said Monday that it had received a "military gift" from Jordan, including armored personnel and artillery carriers.

According to Lt. Gen. Manuel Karjian, deputy chief-of-staff of the Lebanese army, a ceremony was held at the Beirut naval base on Monday to mark receipt of the Jordanian military largesse.

He added in a statement that the equipment included 30 M113 armored personnel carriers and 12 artillery carriers.

The war raging in Syria, which has killed more than 210,000 people in nearly four years, has had a major security, economic and humanitarian impact on Lebanon.

In recent months, Lebanon's army has fought several battles against jihadists crossing in from across the restive border with Syria.

The deadliest battle took place last August in the border town of Ersal with jihadists of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) group and al-Qaeda’s Syria branch, al-Nusra Front.

The Ersal violence left 16 soldiers dead and 85 wounded, while dozens of jihadists are said to have been killed, along with three civilians.

Islamist militants withdrew from the town to its outskirts, taking with them 25 captive Lebanese soldiers and policemen, four of whom they have since executed.

In October, Lebanese troops fought deadly clashes with ISIS and Nusra jihadists in the northern city of Tripoli.

The fighting left 42 people dead, including 11 soldiers and eight civilians.

Earlier this month, the Lebanese army received a shipment of US weapons to help in the fight against jihadists.

Moreover in September, Ali Shamkhani, secretary of Iran's Supreme National Security Council announced that Iran would offer equipment to the Lebanese army to bolster its battle against jihadists.

However, the United States sent a stern warning to Lebanese officials immediately after the announcement of an Iranian aid to the Lebanese army.

A source told Al-Akhbar in November that the US government had threatened, directly and indirectly, to withhold all aid from the Lebanese army and to stop security cooperation if Lebanon breached the sanctions against Iran and accepted the Iranian grant.

In exchange for the continuous support of the US, Lebanon has to commit to the US sanctions imposed on Iran, which include not accepting any arms donations.

Moreover, Saudi Arabia announced in 2013 it would give the Lebanese army $3 billion (2.4 billion euros) to purchase weapons and equipment from France, but that deal has yet to be fully implemented.

In August, the kingdom offered another $1 billion in funds to allow the army to purchase supplies immediately.

ISIS has captured large swathes of land in Iraq and Syria, declaring what it calls a cross-border Islamic ‘caliphate,’ killing thousands and displacing millions in the two countries.

The United States, backed by some Western and Arab allies, launched airstrikes against the group in Iraq in August, expanding operations to targets in Syria a month later.

However, the air campaign, which Washington says aims to degrade ISIS' military capability, remains the subject of debate, with critics pointing to ISIS advances and battlefield successes despite the raids.

The US-led anti-ISIS campaign has cost the Iraqi government more than $260 million, and the total cost of operations related to ISIS in Iraq and Syria reached $1.3 billion as of January 9. The average daily cost of US-led anti-ISIS coalition efforts is $8.3 million according to the Department of Defense’s website, or more than $330,000 an hour.

Critics opposing anti-ISIS campaign have pointed out that Washington in partnership with its Gulf allies, especially Saudi Arabia, played a role in the formation and expansion of extremist groups like ISIS by arming, financing and politically empowering rebels in Syria and Libya. Moreover, neighboring countries, namely Jordan and Turkey, have been accused of turning a blind eye on jihadists’ free movement on its borders with Iraq and Syria.

(Anadolu, Al-Akhbar)

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