BEIRUT: British Ambassador to Lebanon Tom Fletcher said Tuesday his country will support Lebanon in its bid to secure its borders with Syria, through the provision of additional equipment and training for the Army.
Speaking after a meeting with Defense Minister Samir Moqbel, Fletcher said he offered his condolences to the Lebanese authorities for the lives of military personnel lost in the battle against foreign extremists in Arsal, and he underscored support for efforts to bring back personnel held hostage by the militants.
Fletcher said Lebanon’s allies, including the United Kingdom, should be considering now, more than ever before, how to support Lebanon’s efforts in buttressing stability and sovereignty.
He pointed out that he has informed Moqbel of his country’s wish to extend additional support to the military in the form of training and equipment to help it reinforce monitoring and control of the border.
Five days of clashes between the Army and militants belonging to Syria’s Al-Qaeda-linked Nusra Front and Islamic State in Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS) in the border town of Arsal claimed the lives of 19 troops, in addition to 60 militants and more than 15 civilians.
Over 20 security personnel, including 10 troops, are missing, believed to be held hostage by the militants who retreated from Arsal under a cease-fire agreement brokered by the Muslim Scholars Committee.