Beirut (Reuters) - Iran is to give a military grant to the Lebanese Army, the head of Iran’s national security council said on Tuesday, boosting security forces that are already backed by Saudi Arabia and the United States.
The Lebanese Army has been stepping up efforts to prevent Sunni Muslim fighters from Syria entering Lebanese border towns. Last month, the northern town of Arsal was the scene of the deadliest spillover of fighting in the three-year-old civil war in Syria.
The rise of hardline militants in Syria such as Islamic State presents a shared foe for Shi’ite Iran and its enemies, Sunni Saudi Arabia and the United States.
“The Islamic Republic decided to give a military grant to the Lebanese Army,” Supreme National Security Council Director Ali Shamkhani told reporters in Beirut.
He did not say what the grant would include. A diplomatic source said the Iranian defence minister would soon ask his Lebanese counterpart for a list of weapons needed by the army.
Shamkhani is meeting Lebanese officials, including the Prime Minister Tamman Salam and Speaker Nabih Berri.
Sunni Muslim militants in Syria and their allies in Lebanon accuse the Lebanese army of working with Hezbollah, the Iranian-funded Shi’ite movement that has sent fighters to help Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s forces.
Reporting by Oliver Holmes and Sylvia Westall; Editing by Angus MacSwan