France Announces Aid to Lebanese Army as Israel Carries out Drills with US

France Announces Aid to Lebanese Army as Israel Carries out Drills with US

Thursday, 8 March, 2018 - 19:45
Lebanese Army soldiers ride on their military vehicles in Ras Baalbek, Lebanon August 28, 2017. (Reuters)
Asharq Al-Awsat
France will grant millions of euros in aid to the Lebanese army in an effort to strengthen Lebanon’s institutions and boost security.

The 14 million euros' ($17 million) in aid includes training and equipment such as anti-tank missiles, an official said on Thursday.

The army, one of the few institutions not overtaken by the sectarian divisions that plague Lebanon, has few resources to deal with the instability on its border with Syria, and has been seeking to modernize its hardware.

Lebanon's defense minister was in Paris on Thursday to prepare the first of three conferences aimed at helping different sectors in the country.

An event on March 15 in Rome is intended to support the army, one on April 6 in Paris to aid the private sector, and another on April 25 in Brussels to address the refugee issue.

Lebanon is currently hosting around 1.5 million Syrian refugees.

On the other side of the border, some 5,000 American and Israeli troops are participating in a joint missile-defense exercise, preparing for the threat of attacks from across the region.

The "Juniper Cobra" exercise began March 4 and is taking place in Israel over several weeks. It includes field exercises, computer simulations and live-fire drills.

Israel has made missile defense a top priority to counter threats from Lebanon, Syria, Gaza and Iran - all of which possess arsenals capable of striking deep inside Israel.

Brig. Gen. Zvika Haimovich, chief of Israel's air defense command, said Wednesday the drills will simulate "very complex scenarios" that include simultaneous attacks from various adversaries.

Lt. Gen. Richard Clark, who is commanding the US troops for the exercise, says American forces are prepared to deploy to Israel, and that the exercise is an opportunity to improve coordination.

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