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Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 25 June 2018

Britain steps up support for Lebanon’s border watch towers

Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson says an order worth £1.8 million has been placed for new defensive barriers on the Lebanese-Syrian border

Britain's Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson has issued a new written statement on the provision of border assistance to Lebanon
Britain's Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson has issued a new written statement on the provision of border assistance to Lebanon

Britain is sending more support for the Lebanese military to help protect the country's border with Syria.

In a statement made on Thursday, Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said that the British Embassy in Beirut had placed an order for new border defensive barriers, worth £1.8 million.

The order, which was placed in August, was intended to support the construction of the Lebanese army’s new border watch towers, Mr Johnson said.

It forms part of a wider, long-standing “Conflict Stability and Security project” worth £22.6 million over three years, through which the UK is helping the Lebanese army secure their country’s border with Syria.

“This includes building 30 border watchtowers and over 20 Forward Operating Bases along the border,” Mr Johnson said. “Our ambition is for Lebanon to have complete authority over its border with Syria.”

He added: “The United Kingdom is strongly committed to supporting Lebanon’s peace, stability and prosperity.”

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It came as Britain’s ambassador to Lebanon, Hugo Shorter, called on the Lebanese Army Commander General Joseph Aoun, to offer his congratulations on the success of the recent Fajr el Jouroud operation.

The campaign, which translates to “the dawn of the mountains”, was a full-blown assault at the remaining entities of ISIL that are still plaguing the mountain regions of Al-Qaa and Aarsal, on Lebanon’s north-eastern border with Syria.

The ambassador said the operation was “complex, risky and dangerous”, but that the army had successfully fulfilled its mission.

“The Lebanese Army has shown that it is an effective, professional army capable of defending Lebanon from the threats of an uncertain region,” he said.

Commenting on the ongoing attempts to secure the border, Mr Shorter said: “The United Kingdom is already helping train over 11,000 soldiers, build over 20 forward operating bases and provide 30 border watch towers, and our support will continue.”

He added: “We believe in the Lebanese Army as the sole legitimate defender of Lebanon and the only one which represents all Lebanese, acting within the law and with the consent of the Lebanese state and its people.”

The ambassador also offered his condolences for the soldiers killed and injured during the operation, and for the soldiers captured by ISIL.

“Our thoughts will be with those who have lost loved ones as the country observes a day of national mourning on Friday,” he said.

The British embassy in Beirut will be flying its flag at half-mast on Friday, as a sign of respect for the soldiers who lost their lives.