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France to supply Lebanon with weapons to battle Islamist insurgents

media The Lebanese army helps Syrian refugees evacuated from Arsal. 4 August … REUTERS/Hassan Abdallah

Lebanon's army commander General Jean Kahwagi has urged France to speed up its delivery of weapons to the country.

General Jean Kahwagi said this on Tuesday in the wake of his troops battling Islamist insurgents from Syria in Arsal, in the eastern region of the country.

The deputy spokesman of the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Vincent Floreani responded saying that France is ready to respond quickly to the needs of Lebanon.

A 3-billion-dollar Saudi-financed deal that is set to bolster a poorly equipped Lebanese army struggling with the spill-over conflict from the Syrian civil war, was agreed upon last December. Delivery was delayed because the list of materials to be supplied to the Lebanese army was not finalised yet.

At an international conference in Rome in mid-June, the international community pledged its backing for the Lebanese military.

Kahwagi said the battle against terrorists in the mountainous area of Arsal requires equipment, material and technology the army doesn’t have.

At least 16 soldiers were killed in the Arsal fighting over the weekend and the army said 22 troops are missing. Kahwagi said the army is determined to find the missing soldiers.

The Syrian civil war has also heightened sectarian and political tensions in Lebanon.

Thousands of residents have fled Arsal since the fighting broke out, many of them Syrian refugees.

More than one million Syrian refugees are in Lebanon, the country with the highest number of refugees from Syria.


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