August 14, 2014 - 17:06 AMT
PanARMENIAN.Net - The United States will soon deliver additional weaponry to help bolster the Lebanese military as it faces a growing threat from Islamic militants amid the fallout from the civil war in neighboring Syria, the U.S. ambassador said Thursday, Aug 14, according to the Associated Press.
Ambassador David Hale said the deliveries come in response to a request from the Lebanese armed forces for emergency assistance after Islamic militants overran a Lebanese town near the Syrian border, killing and kidnapping soldiers.
Hale did not say when the munitions would arrive, nor did he provide a price tag for them, but he did say the new assistance it is part of Washington's long-standing partnership with the Lebanese military.
The U.S has provided more than $1 billion in military assistance since 2006, including over $120 million in training and equipment since October, he said.
Separately, former Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri, who enjoys close ties with the Saudi monarchy, last week announced an additional $1 billion grant from the kingdom to help the Lebanese army in its fight.
The military is generally seen as a unifying force in Lebanon, and draws its ranks from all of the country's sects — Sunni and Shiite Muslim, Christian and Druse. But the armed forces have struggled to contain the escalating violence in the country since the outbreak of the Syrian conflict in 2011.
The latest and most dangerous spillover from Syria took place early this month when Islamic militants, some of them linked to the Islam State extremist group, crossed into Lebanon and raided the border town of Arsal, about 90 kilometers (55 miles) from Beirut.
After five days of gunbattles, the militants withdrew from the town as part of a negotiated truce, allowing Lebanese troops to redeploy inside and restore security. Twelve soldiers are still missing along with an unknown number of policemen, all of whom are believed to be held by the gunmen.