BEIRUT, Lebanon, June 11 (UPI) -- The delivery of missile launchers from the United States to Lebanon was marked by a demonstration of the artillery in Lebanon's Bekaa Valley.
The 200 TOW-II missiles and launchers were a joint Saudi-U.S. shipment, valued at $10 million, to help the Lebanese Army confine jihadist fighters in Syria, including those with al-Qaida affiliations, from seeking refuge along the rocky Syria-Lebanon border. In August 2014 they briefly captured the border town of Arsal, Lebanon. The U.S. has provided over $82 million in aid to Lebanon since.
The acronym of the equipment indicates "Tube-launched, Optically-tracked, Wire-guided" missiles.
"Today we are celebrating just the latest shipment of U.S. equipment, the arrival of over 200 missiles and dozens of launchers for the Lebanese Army," U.S. Ambassador to Lebanon David Hale during a brief ceremony Wednesday. "We are absolutely committed to making sure that the army has the capacity to be the sole defender of Lebanese territory and its borders. This is a long-term commitment, and we will stand by Lebanon's side in this regard until these terrorists are defeated."
The military equipment package was partially funded by Saudi Arabia, part of a $3 billion program which also purchased French-made anti-tank guided missiles, sent to Lebanon in April. Future deliveries include combat vehicles, three small warships as well as surveillance and communications equipment. Lebanon is also seeking U.S. government approval to purchase six A-29 Toscano light attack aircraft, used for surveillance and counterinsurgency.