BEIRUT: Former Prime Minister Saad Hariri said Lebanon is facing an unprecedented terror attack at the hands of takfiri militants, saying that the $1 billion Saudi grant is meant to support the efforts of the Lebanese Army and other security apparatuses in crushing terrorism.
“In the name of the Lebanese state and Lebanese people, I would like to extend my thanks for this generous grant, and accordingly I will start contacting the prime minister and the state’s officials to meet the urgent needs of the Army and security forces,” Hariri told a press conference in the Saudi port city of Jeddah.
Hariri noted that the “main task of the grant” is to beef up the capacities of the Army and the security apparatuses in charge of combating terrorism.
He praised the Saudi kingdom for standing by Lebanon’s side and initiating the assistance to help Lebanon and its Army to confront the terrorists who have tarnished the image of true Islam.
“Extremism is a cancer threatening Lebanon’s mere existence, and the whole region. It is a curse that befell on us and uprooting it is the responsibility of the state which did not save any sacrifices, thus the grant by the Saudi king for immediate aid to the Army, Internal Security Forces and all legal security bodies,” Hariri said.
The former premier renewed accusations that Hezbollah’s military role in the Syrian civil war drew retaliatory action by Sunni militants and blamed their actions for a series of car bomb attacks and security escalations across the border, the latest of which was the overrunning of Arsal by Al-Qaeda-linked gunmen from Syria’s Nusra Front and Islamic State in Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS).
“Hezbollah is partly responsible for what happened in Arsal ... It is a crime to have Hezbollah fight in Syria, and it is a crime, as well, to have the terrorists enter Lebanon,” Hariri said.
Commenting on developing events in Arsal, Hariri said negotiations are necessary to “salvage the town of Arsal,” ensure the withdrawal of the militants from the town and secure the release of Army and security captives held by the militants.
Saudi Arabia had provided Lebanon's Army with one billion dollars to strengthen security, Hariri announced earlier Wednesday speaking from King Abdullah's palace.
Lebanese troops have been clashing with militants since Saturday in the country's eastern town of Arsal.