US to supply Lebanon army with combat arms, says Kahwaji


kahwajiLebanese Army chief Gen. Jean Kahwagi who was in Washington on an official visit said that the US would respond favorably to the military needs of the Lebanese Army in its fight against terrorism,

Al-Mustaqbal newspaper quoted sources as saying Thursday the Army chief has been assured by US officials that the United States was prepared to support the military and supply it with weapons to combat terrorism.

The sources said that Kahwagi received similar backing from Arab officials who took part in a meeting in Washington on Tuesday .

“We are attending as a country that receives military aid and training from the United States and because our Army is confronting terrorism on Lebanese territories,” the source was quoted as saying

Spokesperson for the White House National Security Council, Alistair Baskey, said the meetings were “part of ongoing campaign to build the coalition and integrate the capabilities of each country into the broader strategy,” according to media reports.

U.S. President Barack Obama said the campaign was still in its early stages. “There will be days of progress and there are going to be some periods [of setbacks], but our coalition is united behind this long-term effort.”

A U.S. military official told Reuters after the talks that there was an acknowledgement that ISIS was making some gains on the ground, despite the airstrikes. But there was also a sense that the coalition, working together, would ultimately prevail, the official said.

Kahwagi headed to Washington over the weekend on an invitation by U.S. Army General Martin Dempsey.

“The aim of the visit was to discuss the pressing needs of the Lebanese Army and seek additional military assistance from the United States,” the army source said

The Lebanese Army has been receiving from the United States weapons by air since early August when it confronted ISIS and the Nusra Front in the border town of Arsal.

Iran offer

In a related development, Lebanon Defense Minister Samir Mokbel said on Thursday that he will travel at the end of the week with a military delegation to Iran, to discuss the Iranian military offer, and as soon as he comes back he will present the Iranian offer to the cabinet

After his visit to “Change and Reform Bloc” leader MP Michel Aoun, he said that the “talk about the a foreign decision not to arm the army is inaccurate,” stressing that “The people in Lebanon are behind the army and want to strengthen it,” pointing out that the grants may be a little late, but are now in the billions. ”

He may be referring to the Saudi Arabian grant of $4 billion to the Lebanese army.

Supreme National Security Council Director Ali Shamkhani told reporters in Beirut on September 30 :
“The Islamic Republic decided to give a military grant to the Lebanese Army.”

He did not say what the grant would include.

Syrian rebels and their allies in Lebanon accuse the Lebanese army of working with Hezbollah, the Iranian backed Shiite movement that has sent fighters to help Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s forces.