Lebanese Defense Minister hails Turkish support for army
BEIRUT - Anadolu Agency
Lebanese Defense Minister Yacoub al-Sarraf thanked Turkey on Oct. 17 for the support it extended to the Lebanese army at the Rome II Conference held in the Italian capital in March.
Al-Sarraf voiced appreciation for Turkey’s support at a meeting with the Turkish Ambassador to Lebanon Hakan Çakıl, held at the ministry’s Beirut headquarters.
During the meeting, the two men discussed “means of strengthening bilateral cooperation, the general situation in Lebanon and recent regional developments,” according to a ministry statement.
They also reportedly discussed Turkey’s “critical role” in the region and the impact of the Syrian refugee crisis on Lebanon.
Beirut puts the number of Syrian refugees in Lebanon at around 1.5 million, although the United Nations puts the number at less than one million.
In 2015, Turkey began including Lebanon in its foreign military-assistance program.
During the Rome II Conference, Turkey pledged to support the Lebanese Armed Forces by increasing military assistance to Lebanese security institutions.
On Oct. 16, Turkey’s parliament ratified a motion to extend the deployment of Turkish troops in Lebanon for another year as part of the U.N.’s interim force.
The term for Turkish soldiers in the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) was extended until August 2019.
The motion floated by the presidency has been extended 11 times so far since it was first approved by parliament in September 2006.
Around 10,600 troops from 40 countries are part of the UNIFIL mission.