Prime Minister Tammam Salam speaks with Tourism Minister Michel Pharaon during a Cabinet session at the Grand Serail in Beirut, Thursday, Aug. 14, 2014. (The Daily Star/Dalati Nohra, HO)
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The Lebanese government approved Thursday a $1 billion Saudi grant to modernize security services in their fight against terrorism, as the country's military prosecutor charged 43 alleged militants with crimes connected to recent battles in the border town of Arsal.But the charges appeared to set back negotiations to free Army soldiers and Internal Security Forces personnel held captive by jihadists from the Nusra Front during the clashes, as they postponed issuing demands in exchange for the hostages. Some 19 Army troops in addition to 17 ISF personnel were captured and believed to be held by militants who launched an incursion into Arsal Aug. 2, taking over the town and withdrawing five days later under a cease-fire agreement.Military Prosecutor Saqr Saqr pressed ahead with charges against 43 jihadists, including militant commander Imad Jomaa, over the battles.
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