Lebanese soldiers on armored personnel carrier flash victory signs as they leave Arsal, Tuesday, Aug. 12, 2014. (The Daily Star/Nidal Solh)
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The Lebanese Army has asked the United States for military aid that includes new fixed-wing airplanes to use as close air support while battling extremist militants encamped in the mountains outside Arsal, an official briefed on the request told The Daily Star.The Lebanese Army fought a pitched, five-day battle with militants which began when they stormed military checkpoints around Arsal on Aug. 2 .Last week, Ambassador David Hale said the U.S. would expedite military assistance to Lebanon in the coming months to help it seal the border and fight extremists.The Lebanese Air Force has very little capacity to provide close air support to its ground troops as they fight enemies like guerrilla militants in close proximity – the Army has just one Cessna Caravan 208B, a fixed-wing plane fitted with Hellfire missiles to attack ground troops, which was provided in 2009 .Lister also said the Lebanese Army conducts many operations against jihadist militants in urban environments, where close air support is less useful since it can cause high civilian casualties.
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