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US to give Lebanon military unmanned aircraft

world Updated: Apr 14, 2009 23:36 IST

AP
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The United States on Tuesday said it is providing Lebanon with 12 unmanned military aircraft in the coming months, the latest effort to bolster the fragile Mideast nation.

Washington hopes a strengthened Lebanese military would extend state authority across the country, where the militant Hezbollah is gaining power with its arsenal of rockets that threaten another US ally, neighboring Israel.

A strong national army could be a counter to Hezbollah’s weapons and could deprive the militants of the excuse to keep their arms.

US officials said their support is intended to help Lebanon maintain internal security, fight terrorism and secure its borders.

Since 2006, the US has provided Lebanon with more than a billion dollars in assistance, including USD410 million to support security. But the aid has largely been equipment, vehicle and supplies, drawing ridicule from critics who contrast that with the high-tech weapons provided to Israel.