British military focuses on Lebanon, Cyprus

Aug. 29, 2013 at 11:57 AM
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BEIRUT, Lebanon, Aug. 29 (UPI) -- The British chief of defense staff said he was in Lebanon to support the military in the defense of its borders "under difficult conditions."

British Chief of Defense Staff Gen. Nicholas Houghton marked his inaugural foreign tour with a visit to Beirut to meet Lebanese army Cmdr. Gen. Jean Kahwaji.

Houghton, who took his position in July, said the British military would continue supporting its Lebanese counterparts in its efforts to ensure stability and protect its borders.

"I commend the Lebanese armed forces for their commitment to maintaining Lebanon's stability, under difficult conditions," he said in a statement published Thursday. "On my watch, the U.K. will continue its staunch support to Lebanese stability."

The Daily Star newspaper in Lebanon reported this week sources believed recent bombings in the northern city of Tripoli were directed by Syrian intelligence agencies. Lebanon broke free of Syrian dominance with revolution in 2005, though civil war threatens to spill over its border.

The British government in July pledged $15 million in military support for its Lebanese counterparts.

Elsewhere in the region, the British Ministry of Defense announced it was deploying six Typhoon interceptor jets to its Akrotiri military base in Cyprus as a precautionary measure given tensions in the area.

"This is a movement of defensive assets operating in an air-to-air role only," the ministry said Thursday. "They are not deploying to take part in any military action against Syria."

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