Lebanon gets French weapons in $3 bln Saudi deal

Security source says the first shipment of French weapons was 48 anti-tank missiles

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A Saudi-funded $3 billion deal to provide Lebanon with French weapons was underway on Monday as the first shipment arrived at the Beirut International airport.

The deal, signed last November, aims to bolster the Lebanese army's fight against militants encroaching from neighboring Syria. Saudi Arabia has already provided $1 billion in military aid to the Lebanese army.

The arrival of the first shipment was broadcast on Lebanese news channels, showing a military plane at Beirut International airport with green boxes of weapons and missiles laid out in front.

The ceremony was attended by French and Lebanese ministers of defense as Saudi and French flags waved.

A security source from Lebanon, which is still rebuilding after its own 15-year civil war, told Reuters news agency the first shipment was 48 "Milan" anti-tank missiles.

Lebanon, with sectarian divisions have been exacerbated by the war over the border in Syria, has said it needs more resources and better hardware.

The deal will involve about 20 French companies and cover a mix of land, sea and air equipment, including armored vehicles, heavy artillery, anti-tank missiles, mortars and assault weapons, a French defense ministry source has said.

(With Reuters)

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