The Lebanese armed forces on Tuesday (August 1st) celebrated the 72nd anniversary of its founding amid looming battles to free the border towns of Ras Baalbek and al-Qaa from the "Islamic State of Iraq and Syria" (ISIS).
The Army Day celebrations were held after a two-year hiatus due to the presidential vacuum. They were attended by President Michel Aoun, House Speaker Nabih Berri, Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri and other military and political figures.
President Aoun, flanked by Defence Minister Yacoub al-Sarraf, Army Commander Gen. Joseph Aoun and Chief of Staffs Maj. Gen. Hatem Malak, laid a wreath of flowers on the memorial of army martyrs while music played the national anthem.
"Lebanon has been a pioneer in its war on terrorism; the army has faced terrorism in successive battles and succeeded in reinforcing the country’s political and security stability," Aoun said, addressing graduate officers.
"Your graduation today coincides with major challenges facing the military and security institutions in confronting the threats of terrorism and aggressions against Lebanon," he said.
"We will not retreat in front of terrorism," he added. "The army and our security institutions will always be ready to confront it."
Army ready to defeat ISIS
"There is no doubt that the Lebanese army’s capabilities are very high as a result of continuous training," Brig. Gen. Johnny Khalaf, who is retired from the Lebanese army, told Al-Mashareq.
The army's capabilities have significantly improved in recent years, he said.
"We certainly still need to further develop these capabilities, but what we have now makes us ready for any battle and for repelling any attack," he added.
The military is constantly preparing for the battle against ISIS in al-Qaa and Ras Baalbek, Khalaf said, noting that the army has reinforced its brigades and regiments, and is regularly conducting patrols and monitoring the movements of extremists through a highly advanced operations room.
"The army is now capable of fighting any battle and emerging victorious," he said.