Support The Moscow Times!

Lebanon to Acquire Mi-24 Helicopters

President Dmitry Medvedev and Suleiman meeting in Moscow last week. Dmitry Astakhov

BEIRUT, Lebanon — Russia has agreed to provide Lebanon with an unspecified number of helicopter gunships instead of MiG-29 fighter jets, the Lebanese president's office said.

The announcement came after President Michel Suleiman returned home from a three-day visit to Moscow where he held talks with senior Russian officials about arming Lebanon's military and the situation in the Middle East.

Suleiman's office said in a statement released late Friday that Russia agreed to Beirut's formal request to provide Lebanon with Mi-24 helicopters instead of the 10 MiG-29 fighters originally planned.

"The army needs this type of helicopters, especially if they are supplied with missiles," the statement said. Suleiman is a former army commander.

Lebanon's military fought a three-month battle in 2007 against the al-Qaida-inspired Fatah Islam group inside the Palestinian refugee camp Nahr el-Bared in northern Lebanon.

The Lebanese army crushed the group, but the clashes left 220 militants, 171 soldiers and 47 Palestinian civilians dead. During the battle, the army used French-made Gazelle helicopters against the militants.

The United States also has been arming Lebanese troops for years, hoping that a stronger Lebanese military could impose the state's authority across the country.

A strong national military is also seen as a possible counterweight to the Islamic militant group Hezbollah, which has been increasing its power behind an arsenal of rockets that threaten another U.S. ally — Israel.

Last year, Washington stepped up its military aid program to Lebanon and decided to supply Beirut with battle tanks — the first since the early 1980s — after Russia promised in late 2008 to give Lebanon 10 MiG-29 fighter jets.

… we have a small favor to ask. As you may have heard, The Moscow Times, an independent news source for over 30 years, has been unjustly branded as a "foreign agent" by the Russian government. This blatant attempt to silence our voice is a direct assault on the integrity of journalism and the values we hold dear.

We, the journalists of The Moscow Times, refuse to be silenced. Our commitment to providing accurate and unbiased reporting on Russia remains unshaken. But we need your help to continue our critical mission.

Your support, no matter how small, makes a world of difference. If you can, please support us monthly starting from just $2. It's quick to set up, and you can be confident that you're making a significant impact every month by supporting open, independent journalism. Thank you.

Once
Monthly
Annual
Continue
paiment methods
Not ready to support today?
Remind me later.

Read more