Trump administration quietly releases $100 million Lebanon military aid

Lebanese anti-government protesters wave the national flag in a march in Beirut

Lebanese anti-government protesters wave the national flag in a march in Beirut

President Donald Trump s administration said Monday it has released $100 million in military assistance to Lebanon that had been quietly frozen for months amid USA complaints about the clout of Hezbollah.

The military aid was placed under a mysterious hold for months with no explanation.

Democrat Sen. Chris Murphy called the report "stunning", saying holding the money weakened the Lebanese army.

Donald Trump's administration has lifted a mysterious "hold" on more than $100 million in security aid for Lebanon.

All three spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly to the matter.

Agency officials and national security experts said the aid, which covers the cost of US-made military equipment supplied to the Lebanese army, was crucial for pushing back against Iran and maintaining stability in the country.

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U.S. President Donald Trump speaks to reporters as he and first lady Melania Trump depart for travel to a North Atlantic Treaty Organisation summit in London, from the White House in Washington, U.S. December 2, 2019. It was likened to the Ukraine aid hold-up, which sparked a full-blown impeachment inquiry against President Trump.

The $105 million in Foreign Military Financing funds for the Lebanese Armed Forces was released just before the Thanksgiving holiday and lawmakers were notified of the step on Monday, according to two congressional staffers and an administration official.

There has been no allegation that Trump stopped the Lebanon assistance for personal political gain, the central allegation in his delay of $400 million in military aid to Ukraine.

"I learned from a member of my staff, I believe, and the aid package to Lebanon was also being held in the same fashion", Hale said.

Lawmakers such as Rep. Eliot Engel, the chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee and Sen. The LAF is also seen as an important buffer against Hezbollah, the Iran-backed Shiite Muslim militant group and political party that's considered a terrorist group by the US. Murphy said in response to the release. Murphy compared the situation to Trump's hold on security assistance to Ukraine, warning that doing so could benefit United States adversaries while harming important partners. After the comments a senior State Department official said Lebanon's military is "an excellent partner to the US" in combating extremism, Reuters reported.

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