BEIRUT: Cardinal Beshara Rai saluted Lebanon’s Army from Rome Monday, saying the military is the only authority that can protect Lebanon.
“Each time an Army martyr falls, the military and its leadership become stronger and we are more convinced that only the Army protects the Lebanese and preserves their dignity,” said Rai during a ceremony held by Lebanon’s Ambassador to Rome to welcome Army Commander Jean Kahwagi to the Italian capital.
Rai offered his condolences over the death of two Army soldiers killed over the weekend by a suicide bombing that struck a checkpoint outside the northeastern town of Hermel.
A civilian was also killed by the car bomb, which wounded 17 others. The attack was claimed by the Lebanese branch of the Nusra Front, a militant group fighting in Syria that has declared war on Hezbollah over its decision to fight alongside Syrian regime forces. Hermel is one of several areas in Lebanon associated with Hezbollah.
Media reports quoted Army Commander Gen. Jean Kahwagi saying that the military is determined to prevent the ongoing war in neighboring Syria from spilling over into Lebanon.
Kahwagi also said he was upbeat about the future, adding that his visit to the Italian capital is intended to boost bilateral ties between the armies of the two countries, in particular ahead of a conference set to be held in Italy to support the capabilities of the LAF.
The army commander also held talks on Sunday with Rai.