Trump pledges U.S. aid in Lebanon fight against IS

Another item on the prime minister's agenda is continued USA support for the Lebanese military.

On Friday, Hezbollah worked with Syrian forces to push Islamist radicals off the Lebanese border. Of Republican Senators Susan Collins (ME) and Lisa Murkowski (AK), who both voted against the motion, Trump said only, "It's sad". President Michel Aoun is an ally of the militant group, which is fighting on the side of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, even while Lebanon absorbs scores of refugees displaced by Syria's intractable civil war.

UN Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura said last week that the next round of intra-Syria talks in Geneva will take place in early September.

This became clear, during a Tuesday press conference that took place after he met with Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri, who is now on an official trip to the U.S.

While Hariri, a Sunni Muslim who leads an anti-Hezbollah political party, has been critical of the terror group, Hezbollah's strong position within Lebanon essentially emasculates the government's power.

"Hezbollah is a menace to the Lebanese state, the Lebanese people and the entire region", Trump said.

Trump accused Hezbollah and Iran of heightening the humanitarian disaster in Syria.

He said: "Lebanon is on the front lines in the fight against ISIS, al-Qaeda, and Hezbollah".

"The group continues to increase its military arsenal which threatens to start yet another conflict with Israel. With the support of Iran, the organization is also fueling the humanitarian catastrophe in Syria".

Trump, who has sought to halt the acceptance of Syrian refugees into the United States and vowed cuts to U.S. foreign aid programmes, stressed the importance of helping people close to home and said the USA would continue to provide humanitarian support to efforts in Lebanon. We have watched the tremendous progress made in Lebanon; it's not easy.

"America's assistance can help ensure that the Lebanese army is the only defender Lebanon needs", Trump said.

Whilst the group is Lebanese, it is strongly backed by Iran, and its political wing is very influential within the country.

The Lebanese PM said he discussed the proposed sanctions with Trump and will meet with USA lawmakers later this week.

It remains unclear what the final legislation would look like or whether Republican leadership will be able to muster enough votes to get it to Trump's desk.

Trump was also asked about Syrian President Bashar Assad and Trump brought up the airstrikes he ordered on a Syrian airfield in April, following a deadly chemical attack that the global community says Assad launched on his own people.


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