More than 70 M198 Howitzers, as well as 26 million rounds of ammunition including small, medium, and heavy artillery rounds, were delivered on Sunday (February 8) from the United States (U.S.) as military aid to the Lebanese army.
The U.S. ambassador to Lebanon, David Hale, presided over the delivery at Beirut port, accompanied by Brigadier General Manuel Kerejian, director of the Lebanese Armed Forces logistics brigade.
“Today we have an entire shipload of U.S. military assistance that has arrived here in Beirut port, its value is $25 million of equipment. Over 70 (M198) howitzers and over 26 million rounds of ammunition and artillery of all shapes and sizes including heavy artillery,” Hale told journalists.
Last month, the U.S. delivered dozens more new armoured Humvees to Lebanese units. Lebanon was the fifth largest recipient of U.S. foreign military funding in 2014, during which the U.S. provided more than $100 million to the Lebanese armed forces.
The U.S. embassy in Lebanon said its country is continuously working very closely with the Lebanese armed forces to ensure that the right aid equipment is delivered.
More than $1 billion in U.S. military aid has been provided to the Lebanese army since 2006.
“And this is top of the line equipment, this is the best that there is on the marketplace, it is what our soldiers use and I know that in matter of days is going to be what your brave soldiers are using in the battle to defeat terrorism and extremism that is pouring across the borders from Syria. I have every confidence that with the right equipment, Lebanese soldiers and Lebanese army can defend Lebanon successfully. I have no doubt my mind about that and we are proud partners of this course because this is a common enemy, and our support for you and for the army has been swift and has been continuous, and we are going to continue in this until the job is done. I know that this is exactly what the Lebanese army leadership has asked for and it is exactly what the Lebanese army needs for it to accomplish that role,” added Hale.
“Recent attacks against Lebanon’s army only strengthen America’s resolve to stand in solidarity with the people of Lebanon to confront theses threats,” the U.S. Embassy press release read.
The latest fighting between Lebanese troops and gunmen broke out on January 23 in an area that has seen repeated incursions by Islamist militants fighting in Syria’s war. The army lost at least eight soldiers in the attack near the village of Ras Baalbek.
Ras Baalbek is near the town of Arsal, which Sunni Islamist militants attacked last August, seizing a group of Lebanese soldiers. The militants have since killed some of the soldiers and about two dozen remain captive.
Lebanon’s security has been repeatedly jolted by the Syria conflict, which has also contributed to the country’s political paralysis. Lebanon has been without a head of state since May.
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