Lebanon, France finalize $3 billion arms deal

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Lebanon and France have finalized an arms deal as part of a $3 billion Saudi grant aimed at bolstering Lebanon’s military capabilities, according to a report published Thursday.

The local daily An-Nahar, quoting diplomatic sources in Paris, said on Thursday that the agreement would provide the Lebanese Army with weapons for land, air and naval defense.

Saudi Arabia has pledged $3 billion to buy weapons from France to help support the poorly-equipped Lebanese Army.

The short newspaper report did not specify the types of weapons ordered.

An-Nahar said the deal is expected to be announced during a March 5 international donors conference in Paris.

The conference, known as the International Support Group (ISG) for Lebanon, held its first meeting in New York in September. ISG aims to coordinate strong international support for Lebanon in response to the unprecedented challenges posed by the foreign-hatched Syrian crisis.

The Saudi grant comes as the military establishment faces mounting security challenges resulting from the foreign-backed insurgency in neighboring Syria.

This is while the persistence of terrorist attacks in Lebanon is proving to be another challenge for the Army. The military establishment is carrying on with its crackdown on terrorist groups and arrested key figures from the Al-Qaeda-linked Abdullah Azzam Brigades in recent weeks.

Hundreds were killed and wounded in a recent spate of bombings which has targeted the Beirut southern suburbs and the Bekaa Valley, where Hezbollah resistance movement enjoys wide support. Most of the bombings were claimed by radical Al-Qaeda-linked insurgents based in Syria.

The Lebanese Army is also working to prevent arms smuggling from and to Syria.

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