On Friday, the Lebanese Army launched an offensive against the Al
Qaida-aligned Fatah Al Islam, based in the Palestinian refugee camp of Naher
Al Bared, Middle East Newsline reported. The army was said to have employed artillery, main battle tanks
and armored personnel carriers at the northern edge of the camp.
In late May, the United States sent six cargo aircraft filled with light
weapons, munitions and Humvee combat vehicles to battle at least 1,000 Al
Qaida fighters supported by neighboring Syria. Much of the equipment was
pledged by Washington in 2006 and meant to arrive in Lebanon in early 2007.
The sources said the Lebanese Army has sought heavy weapons and armored
vehicles for an armored brigade and artillery battalion. The Siniora
government has appealed to and received unidentified weapons from Egypt,
Jordan and the United Arab Emirates.
The Bush administration allocated about $280 million in military aid to
Lebanon in fiscal 2007. But security sources said the Defense Department has
failed to honor its pledges to supply Humvees, night-vision goggles
and Russian-origin weapons.
"We need the equipment now, not when the fighting is over," the source
The sources said Lebanon has been awaiting more than 250 rebuilt Humvees
as part of a Bush administration decision to unblock $40 million of U.S.
military aid meant for 2006. But they said the Pentagon has cited an
equipment storage amid operations in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Lebanon's allies have also failed to respond to appeals for lethal
systems. The UAE has supplied French-origin Gazelle attack helicopters
without weapons systems. Belgium has failed to deliver the German-origin
Leopard-1 main battle tanks and U.S.-origin M109 self-propelled artillery.
"There is a general feeling abroad that the [Lebanese] military remains
unreliable, and that lethal weapons could be seized by Hizbullah and other
elements," the source said.