Following the killing of 17 people in early January in Paris by gunmen who targeted the satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo and a kosher supermarket and the French authorities’ announcement last week that they had foiled a terror attack on at least one church, and that six planned attacks have been stopped in the country since summer 2013, France has declared an open war on terrorism not only on the domestic level but on the global one too.
It is in that context and in light of historical ties between the two countries that France will expedite deliveries of weapons to Lebanon as part of a $3 billion arms grant financed by Saudi Arabia, political sources quoted French officials as saying.
The sources said France was looking to strengthening its partnership with Lebanon, mainly in the field of security through strengthening the capabilities of the Lebanese Army and other security agencies.
Last week, Lebanon received the first weapons shipment which included dozens of armored vehicles and artillery warfare such the “Caesar” 155mm truck-mounted artillery system as well as 48 anti-tank guided MILAN missiles.
The sources say that the second batch of weapons is due to arrive next month and would include night vision goggles and protective shields.
As for the third installment, the sources predicted that they would arrive in mid-June and would comprise cannons and armored personnel transport vehicles. The sources revealed that Paris is determined to furnish Lebanon with combat aircrafts and military transport aircrafts and is seeking to help the Lebanese Army to build and train three commando teams to carry out flash operations. The commando units will be supplied with aircraft and helicopter gunships.
The sources noted that France has already supplied Lebanese Army helicopters with rocket launching equipment.
Meanwhile, military sources told The Daily Star that troops stationed on the northeastern border are now “very well” prepared to counter possible incursions of terrorist groups from Syria now that the snow has melted and access into Lebanon has become easier.
The sources said the Army is capable of swiftly intervening to repel infiltrators in the event of incursions. The same sources say that in the event of a major terrorist operation, the military was ready and France has vowed to send to the Army all the needed weapons to crush extremists.
Military cooperation to fight terrorism also extends to the sector of intelligence as the exchange of information between Lebanese intelligence apparatuses and western ones was ongoing, the sources said.
The sources said the exchange of intelligence has succeeded in foiling several terrorist plans and the arrest of top terrorists, whose questioning led to a treasure trove of key information needed to combat terrorism.
The sources also spoke of close cooperation between Russian and Lebanese security agencies that led to the uncovering of terrorist plans inside Lebanon and Russia.
According to the military sources, the fight with terrorist groups is a long one, but eventually, the Lebanese Army will prevail. “The Army will not allow the terrorism to infiltrate Lebanon,” one source said. “Terrorism will be nipped in the bud.”