The U.S. administration has been dismayed by Lebanon’s “submission to an agreement led by the Syrian regime and Hizbullah” that led to the evacuation of Islamic State militants from the eastern border region, and has accordingly decided to halt its military support for Lebanon, a media report said on Wednesday.
Washington has decided to “cease military support to Lebanon and retrieve around 50 modern tanks that it had convinced Riyadh to pay for and supply to the Lebanese army to support it in its battle against terrorism,” An Nahar newspaper said.
“These tanks deployed in several posts and took part strongly and effectively along with other weapons in the army’s battle in the outskirts of al-Qaa and Ras Baalbek,” the daily added.
The army had launched an unprecedented military offensive to oust IS militants from the eastern border region on August 19. Separately but simultaneously, Hizbullah and the Syrian army began an assault to remove IS from the Syrian side of the border.
Simultaneous ceasefires were announced on both sides of the border on Sunday morning to allow for negotiations over the fate of nine Lebanese troops abducted by IS militants in 2014.
The Lebanese army has insisted that it has not coordinated any move with Hizbullah or the Syrian army.
The Hizbullah-led agreement resulted in the recovery of nine bodies likely belonging to the captive troops, the evacuation of hundreds of IS militants and their families from the Lebanese-Syrian border to eastern Syria, and the handover of a Hizbullah captive and several corpses to the Iran-backed group.
President Michel Aoun and Army Commander General Joseph Aoun declared victory over IS on Wednesday morning, two days after Hizbullah chief Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah described the removal of IS’ militants as Lebanon’s “Second Liberation Day.”