Lebanon defense minister in Iran on anti-ISIS arms visit

Moqbel will meet his Iranian counterpart Brigadier General Hossein Dehqan to discuss how to improve military cooperation and combat regional security challenges, Fars news agency reported. (Photo Courtesy: The Daily Star)

Lebanon's defense minister on Saturday started a three-day visit to Tehran for talks expected to culminate in him securing military equipment to bolster Beirut's fight against jihadists.

Samir Moqbel's visit comes two weeks after Iran vowed to supply Lebanon's army with much-needed equipment following its deadly clashes with fighters from the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and al-Qaeda affiliate, al-Nusra Front, on the Syrian border in August.

Moqbel will meet his Iranian counterpart Brigadier General Hossein Dehqan to discuss how to improve military cooperation and combat regional security challenges, Fars news agency reported

At the end of his visit, the Lebanese minister is due to return with Iran's military aid to his country, the report said.

Meetings with Iran's President Hassan Rouhani, parliament speaker Ali Larijani and Supreme National Security Council secretary Ali Shamkhani are also scheduled, according to Fars.

Iran's offer of military support -- made when Shamkhani visited Beirut last month -- followed aid packages for Lebanon's army from Tehran's regional rival Riyadh as well as from Washington.

Saudi Arabia last year announced it would give Lebanon $3 billion (2.4 billion euros) to purchase weapons and equipment from France, but that deal has yet to be fully implemented.

In August, the kingdom offered another $1 billion to allow the army to purchase supplies immediately.

The Syrian conflict has regularly spilled over into Lebanon, raising tension between Sunnis, who largely back the uprising, and Shiites who tend to support President Bashar al-Assad's regime in Damascus.

The involvement of Lebanon's Iranian-backed Shiite movement Hezbollah in the conflict has further stoked tensions, and its strongholds have been targeted in attacks by jihadists.

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Last Update: Wednesday, 20 May 2020 KSA 09:44 - GMT 06:44
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