(JNS.org) The Lebanese military is set to receive the first round of a massive $3 billion arms package from France to bolster its defense against increasing threats by terror groups in Syria.
The French arms package, which was funded by Saudi Arabia, includes an initial shipment of light equipment and military accessories such as goggles, which will be shipped to Beirut from French arms depots, Lebanon’s Daily Star reported. Heavier weapons such as warplanes and cruisers are expected to arrive later, after they are manufactured and shipped to Lebanon.
The deal to arm Lebanon was signed nearly a year ago by French President Francois Hollande and the late Saudi King Abdullah. Western nations have sought to beef up the Lebanese military in the face of growing threats from terror groups in Syria such as the Islamic State and the al-Qaeda-linked al-Nusra Front. But Israel has long expressed feared that Western arms provided to the Lebanese military could end up in the hands of the Hezbollah terrorist group.
Western governments and Saudi Arabia, however, have long supported Lebanon’s Sunni Muslim community as a counterweight to the Shi’a Muslim population controlled by Hezbollah and its patrons, Iran and the Syrian government.