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Senior Official: US to Give Extra $67 Mln to Lebanese Army

Senior Official: US to Give Extra $67 Mln to Lebanese Army

Thursday, 14 October, 2021 - 14:30
Army soldiers are deployed after gunfire erupted in Beirut, Lebanon October 14, 2021. REUTERS/Aziz Taher

The United States will offer an additional $67 million to support the Lebanese army, US Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Victoria Nuland said in Beirut on Thursday.

Speaking at a news conference, Nuland said Washington was working with the Lebanese authorities, alongside the World Bank and humanitarian relief agencies, to help the country amid its deep economic crisis.

She offered condolences from the US to the nation after violence erupted in Beirut, resulting in at least six dead and several others wounded.

Authorities said the bloodshed was a result of gunfire on protesters who were going to take part in a demonstration called by Hezbollah.

Demonstrators had been gathering to demand the removal of the judge investigating last year's Beirut port blast.

Judge Tarek Bitar has come up against formidable opposition from Hezbollah and its allies who accuse him of singling out politicians for questioning, most of them allied with the Shiite party.

Nuland said an impartial judiciary is the guarantor of all rights, in apparent criticism of Hezbollah. “The Lebanese people deserve no less and the victims and the families of those lost in the port blast deserve no less,” she said. “Today’s unacceptable violence makes clear what the stakes are.”

The court probe centers on hundreds of tons of ammonium nitrates that had been improperly stored at a port warehouse that detonated on August 4, 2020, killing at least 215 people, injuring thousands and destroying parts of nearby neighborhoods.

Hezbollah and its Shiite ally, the Amal movement, accused the Christian Lebanese Forces party of being behind Thursday's shootings.

Lebanon has been facing a financial meltdown, leading to shortages of basic goods, including fuel. Amid the crisis, Iran has sent fuel to Lebanon.

Nuland said any support offered by oil producing Iran was a "publicity stunt".

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