Lebanon receives new US military aid

Beirut, Oct 10 (IANS) Lebanese army received on Friday a new shipment of Hellfire missiles and artillery munitions in assistance from the US, officials said in a statement.

“Ambassador David Hale visited Beirut Airbase this morning to inspect America’s latest delivery of Hellfire missiles and artillery munitions to the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF)” the US ambassy said in a statement, Xinhua reported.

The shipment included 50 Hellfire air-to-ground missiles and 560 artillery rounds, including some precision munitions, the statement revealed.

“This represents $8.6 million worth of US security assistance to Lebanon and boosts the LAF’s ability to secure Lebanon’s borders against violent extremists,” the embassy said.

The Hellfire air-to-ground missiles are used on Cessna Caravan aircraft previously delivered to the military by Washington.

The missiles “allow the LAF to strike confirmed insurgent positions without exposing themselves to return fire,” the embassy explained.

“The other artillery rounds include laser guided projectiles, the first munition of its kind in the LAF’s arsenal, which will provide the LAF with a precision-strike capability at significant stand-off ranges” it said.

The embassy noted that “today’s munitions delivery demonstrates America’s sustained commitment to ensure that the Lebanese Armed Forces has the support it needs to be the sole defender of Lebanese territory and its borders, and is answerable to the state and to the Lebanese people through the state”.

Since August 2014, the army is engaged in battles with Syria-based extremists from the Islamic State (IS) and Al-Nusra Front groups in the northeastern border town of Arsal.

The extremists overran briefly the border town and kidnapped at least 35 policemen and soldiers before withdrawing to Syria.

The Al-Nusra Front later executed three soldiers while the IS beheaded another one.

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