Iran steps in as U.S. steps out of Lebanon

BEIRUT, Lebanon, Aug. 10 (UPI) -- Iran is ready to provide military assistance to Lebanon, an Iranian commander said Tuesday as a U.S. lawmaker revokes military aid to Beirut.

Ghazanfar Roknabadi, the Iranian envoy to Beirut, told Lebanese military leaders that Tehran was ready to support Lebanese armed forces, the official Islamic Republic News Agency reports.


The offer of assistance follows a decision by a U.S. lawmaker to withhold $100 million in military assistance to Lebanon out of concerns regarding Hezbollah.

U.S. President Barack Obama had asked lawmakers in 2009 to consider increasing military aid to Lebanon by $98.4 million in 2009.

House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Howard Berman, D-Calif., announced his decision Monday, citing recent border skirmishes between Israeli and Lebanese forces and heightened rhetoric from Hezbollah.

"Until we know more about this incident and the nature of Hezbollah influence on the Lebanese armed forces -- and can assure that the LAF is a responsible actor -- I cannot in good conscience allow the United States to continue sending weapons to Lebanon," he said in a statement.

Lebanese and Israeli forces traded fire along the border last week, leaving at least four people, including an Israeli lieutenant colonel, dead.


Lebanese forces said Israeli troops wandered too far into their territory to prune trees along border checkpoints. A team from the U.N. Interim Force in Lebanon, however, confirmed the Israeli military was operating inside Israeli territory.

Berman's decision came on the same day that Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah said he had evidence to suggest Israel played a role in the 2005 assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri.

Latest Headlines