On Monday, a British ship sailed from the south coast of the UK to reach Lebanon with 100 armored patrol vehicles donated by the British Government to the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF).
The British embassy in Lebanon explained that these vehicles, worth $2,043,802, will “further reinforce the stability on the Lebanese border with Syria, and help the LAF to counter efforts by terrorists and smugglers to cross into the country.”
In its statement, the British embassy highlighted the United Kingdom’s support for Lebanon in recent years “to effectively counter extremists and smugglers seeking to infiltrate Lebanon from Syria.”
It cited “the deployment of four Land Border Regiments, the construction of over 75 border towers, the provision of 350 Land Rovers, and training of over 11,000 LAF personnel.”
Lebanon shares with Syria a 364 km-long and largely porous border that is deemed hard to control and yet has been more “out of control” than any, as regularly witnessed when it comes to smuggling.
Some civilian groups have been taking it upon themselves to stop Syria-bound trucks, deputing small teams near the four official border crossings. At the same time, the outrage over smuggling has built pressure on the Lebanese army to double up efforts to contain it.
Smuggling occurs in both directions, but even more so from Lebanon to Syria with Lebanese state-subsidized products, like fuel and wheat.
Syria is reeling under a severe economic crisis and sanctions, however, Lebanon is wasting hard currency to import items into the country, only for them to be smuggled into Syria, while Lebanon is enduring its worst economic crisis ever.
Martin Longden, head of the Near East Department and the UK’s Special Envoy to Syria, expressed his delightfulness that the UK has been able to help with donating 100 armored patrol vehicles.
He emphasized that these vehicles will make a real difference to the work of the Land Border Regiments, “whose efforts make life safer for all communities in Lebanon.”
“It’s a great practical example of the friendship and collaboration between the armed forces of our two countries, and the UK’s genuine commitment to a strong and stable Lebanon,” Longden added.