BEIRUT: Lebanese Army commander Gen. Jean Kahwagi expressed Lebanon’s appreciation for Saudi Arabia’s $1 billion grant to the military, saying the support was vital for the Army in its battle against terrorism.
“We are most appreciative for Saudi Arabia’s continued support to Lebanon and for this generous grant which comes in the right place and at a crucial time.” Kahwagi said in an interview published Thursday in Saudi daily Okaz.
“I want to personally thank the Saudi government for its generosity, which will help reinforce the Army’s capacities and fortify Lebanon against the dangers of terrorist attacks that are taking place at present as a result of regional developments."
The Army commander underscored the importance of the grant, which he said would enable the Army to purchase advanced technology and modern military equipment that it lacks at the time being.
“The Saudi support will contribute directly and effectively in the combat against terrorism,” Kahwagi said, arguing that the battle against terror “necessitates sophisticated military equipment to counter the terrorist extremist groups which are using advanced military technology.”
He said the grant would be used to address the Army’s immediate needs and speed up the delivery of necessary military equipment.
“We have actually started drawing lists of priorities and are currently filling in requests for arms and other military gear,” Kahwagi said.
The assistance comes eight months after Saudi King Abdullah granted $3 billion to the Army to buy weapons from France.
The latest grant was prompted by five days of fighting between the Army and militants from Syria’s Al-Qaeda-linked Nusra Front and Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) who had overrun Arsal, a Sunni town on Lebanon’s eastern border with Syria.
At least 17 soldiers, 50 militants and 12 civilians have been killed in the Arsal clashes.
A total of 38 members of the security forces - 19 policemen and 22 Lebanese soldiers - had been taken captive by the militants in Arsal.