November 20, 2023
From Syria 360

The Cradle

Local sources have cast doubt on the truthfulness of a claim by the Lebanese army saying these shipments are part of ‘routine aid deliveries’

Lebanon has been witnessing a “suspicious security movement,” Al-Akhbar reported on 18 November, as several Western military planes carrying weapons have arrived at Beirut International Airport since the outbreak of the Gaza-Israel war last month. 

According to the Lebanese daily, some of these planes have also landed at a decommissioned airstrip in the Hamat military base. 

The deliveries reportedly come in the wake of “requests sent by foreign countries to Lebanon to allow the entry of weapons and ammunition, under the pretext of enhancing the security of its embassies and evacuating its nationals and diplomats.”

Aircraft recently landed in Lebanon include US, British, French, and Canadian planes.  The report adds that some of these planes came from Israel. 

Sources told the newspaper that Lebanon recently rejected a French request to “agree on the entry of a ship carrying about 500 soldiers and approximately 50 vehicles.”

The Lebanese Foreign Ministry also received a request to grant two permits for a Canadian plane and a Belgian plane to arrive at Beirut airport, which was rejected. 

However, Al-Akhbar’s sources say that “the Canadian plane had already landed at Beirut Airport and was found to be carrying various types of weapons (including silencers and detonators).”

Caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati listed these western requests on the agenda of the last cabinet meeting. However, nothing was decided on. 

Western and Arab states reportedly sent requests to Lebanese security services expressing “fear that their employees or nationals would be exposed to attacks against the backdrop of what is happening in Gaza.” 

Western embassies have not answered any questions about these shipments, the report says, adding that diplomats have referred all questions to military attaches “who coordinate all steps with the Lebanese army and security forces.” 

In a statement last week, the Lebanese army command claimed these movements aligned with the routine transport of military aid. 

However, Al-Akhbar’s sources say there are “suspicions regarding the aircraft entering and unloading their cargo, as it is not known to whom this equipment is going, and whether the destination is actually limited to the army.” 

“What is happening has put the current army commander, Joseph Aoun, under the microscope …  and has put question marks about the extent of his cooperation with Westerners nations,” the sources added, highlighting a possible “attack on the principle of sovereignty” in Lebanon. 

Aoun has often been accused of having a very close relationship with the US embassy and Ambassador Dorothy Shea.