They are strategically located along the border – 39 watch towers protecting Lebanon from an Islamic State invasion.
Lebanese soldiers, mentored by British veterans including former paras and marines, are using the positions to catch or kill hundreds of fighters a month.
A total of 11,000 Lebanese troops have been trained by a UK team, including 40 veterans, in how to use the towers to spot approaching terrorists since the project began in 2012. Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt yesterday insisted they had helped to stop an IS invasion.
Vigilance: Lieutenant Colonel Giles Taylor (pictured using binoculars), who leads a British team mentoring the Lebanese, said the towers and training had saved Lebanon from becoming a ‘basket case’
Colonel Nabil Abdullah, pictured with snipers in front of a tower, said: ‘Lebanon is a gateway to Europe. We are the first line of defence against any attack on Europe. It is good for the British people if terrorists don’t get through Lebanon’
He said Lebanon now had its first secure border with war-torn Syria and was ‘a beacon of calm’ in the volatile region. ‘Thanks in part to our security co-operation, Lebanon is still the only country to have successfully repelled an invasion by Daesh [IS]’, he added.
Veterans who served in Northern Ireland came under fire from militants as they helped to construct the towers with Lebanese troops on the 230-mile border. Lebanese military chiefs said that IS insurgents constantly try to sneak into their country so they can then take their fight across the Mediterranean and into Europe.
Colonel Nabil Abdullah said: ‘Lebanon is a gateway to Europe. We are the first line of defence against any attack on Europe. It is good for the British people if terrorists don’t get through Lebanon.’ Lieutenant Colonel Giles Taylor, who leads a British team mentoring the Lebanese, said the towers and training had saved Lebanon from becoming a ‘basket case’.
Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt yesterday insisted the initiative had helped to stop an IS invasion
Standing at the top of T2-B Houerta tower overlooking thousands of miles of Lebanese territory, he stressed: ‘Everything you can see was owned by Daesh. This was until they were beaten back by the Lebanese army – the only army in the region to do this.’
Lt Col Taylor’s team, including some who fought in Afghanistan, have helped build 76 watch towers and forward operating bases. He said: ‘We have helped the Lebanese army prevent the murderous spread of the Syrian civil war into Lebanon. We feel immensely proud of what we have done here.’
The towers are made up of a stack of containers with an armoured deck on the top. The first seven guard posts were shipped from Northern Ireland. They are fitted with bulletproof windows and long-range surveillance cameras. A total of 39 have been built so far with more being planned.
British ambassador to Lebanon, Chris Rampling, said: ‘For the first time ever we now have a border that is secure.’