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Kingdom gives Lebanon $1bn to defeat terrorism

THE LEVANT – Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah has granted $1 billion to help the Lebanese army bolster security as they battle militants who have seized the border town of Arsal on the Syrian frontier, the Saudi Press Agency said.
The king “has issued an order to provide aid to the Lebanese army and the national security (forces) worth $1 billion to support their ability to maintain the security and stability of Lebanon,” said former Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Al-Hariri.
Al-Hariri and Lebanese parliamentarians thanked King Abdullah for the gesture and said the Saudi donation would help Lebanese forces crush terrorism. 
“Generations of Lebanese people will remember the king’s generous support,” said Al-Hariri.
“King Abdullah is keen on protecting Lebanon and supporting its institutions,” the former premier told reporters in Jeddah. “The king has expressed his solidarity with Lebanese people to combat terrorism and armed groups. He is implementing what he has said in his historic speech last week.”
Machine gunfire and shelling broke out on Wednesday morning on the outskirts of Arsal in breach of the 24-hour cease-fire. “The cease-fire is ongoing, but we are responding to any violations,” a Lebanese security official said about the battle with militants.
At least 17 soldiers have been killed and 22 are missing after violence hit the area in and around Arsal. 
Preliminary reports from inside the town suggest that dozens of people have been killed there. Advancing Lebanese troops found the bodies of 50 gunmen on Monday, security sources said, while sources in the town report heavy casualties among its civilian population. Arsal’s mayor Ali Hujeiri said the gunmen were on the outskirts of the town. 
“There was a cease-fire, but it is not being implemented,” he said, adding that there appeared to be more militants in the area. 
Arsal was the first stop for many civilians fleeing the bloodshed in Syria. Refugee camps in Arsal that provide shelter to tens of thousands of Syrians who fled the war have been badly damaged in the fighting, forcing them to seek shelter in the town itself.
Lebanon’s army chief Gen. Jean Kahwaji said the military was hamstrung in its fight against the jihadis. “This battle requires equipment, materiel and technology that the army does not have,” Kahwaji told the AFP.
“That is why we need to speed up the delivery of military aid by finalizing the list of weapons requested from France under a Saudi-financed deal.”

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