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Syria conflict: £62m UK boost to Lebanon to stop terrorists reaching Europe | World News

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A new defensive line of 76 watchtowers and patrol bases has been completed along Lebanon’s border with Syria, which the UK’s ambassador to the country says is vital to prevent terrorists from reaching Europe.

The improved border security was funded by the British government and will also help stabilise Lebanon from the conflict next door.

Britain’s support to Lebanon’s army in the fight against Islamic State (IS) extremism has enabled the state to not only defeat the terrorists but also secure the northern and eastern border with Syria for the first time in its history.

Lebanese watchtower
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The new defensive line features 76 watchtowers along the border with Syria

The UK has spent more than £62m in support, infrastructure and training for the Lebanese armed forces.

Speaking to Sky News, Britain’s ambassador to Lebanon Chris Rampling said the money was not only crucial for stabilising Lebanon but would also help keep Europe safe from another Paris or Brussels attack.

He said: “When you look at the map and realise just how close a country like Lebanon is to the edges of Europe, Cyprus is just 100 miles away or so, making sure that we can control those spaces, in particular the Lebanese state can control its own space, and keep Daesh (IS) on the other side of the border has been extremely important for British security.”

Lebanese patrol
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Lebanese armed forces on patrol to stop illegal crossings

Although the Islamic State has been virtually wiped out on the battlefield, its ideology has not been beaten.

There are still many active cells in Syria and Iraq and many foreign fighters are now attempting to get back home to Europe.

It is feared that if they do they could launch terror attacks.

Watchtower
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The UK has spent more than £62m in support, infrastructure and training

The Lebanese armed forces showed us how they patrol the country’s mountainous border with Syria to prevent illegal crossings.

In the scenario we watched, they demonstrated how they use state-of-the-art surveillance equipment to identify and root out jihadis trying to cross the frontier amidst genuine refugees.

Britain's ambassador to Lebanon Chris Rampling
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UK ambassador Chris Rampling said the money would help keep Europe safe from another terror attack

When Syria’s civil war erupted in 2011 extremist groups like IS and al Qaeda were able to cross the border from Syria and set up bases inside Lebanese territory.

It is hoped the sealing of the border will represent a significant success in the global battle against terrorism.

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