Syria Deeply: Where do things stand regarding the LAF's request for military aid?
Abou Zeid: The U.S. has been engaged for years now in supplying the LAF with ammunition and equipment. Most weapons possessed by the LAF are U.S. made; it's essentially a main sponsor. Yet there are many restrictions posed on these weapons by the U.S., mainly because of the Israeli fear of the LAF possessing advanced equipment that could be used against Israel, or acquired by Hezbollah in any internal conflict.
But with the urgency of the Arsal battle, the LAF needed equipment and ammunition in order to stop the extremists. As the U.S. has been committed to supporting the LAF, and the ambassador to Lebanon supports this need, the U.S. did supply advanced ammunition to be used by the LAF in Arsal. However, the supply was limited.
On the Lebanese-Syrian border, the U.S. will supply the LAF with needed equipment to control the border. This is the best option Lebanon has in preventing future spillover from Syria. We think that over the next few months, the U.S. will be restocking the ammunition lost in Arsal, and also there is talk of providing the LAF with close-support air craft. They have been asking for them for years, and in 2009 the U.S. did provide them [in limited numbers], and they turned out to be very effective. There are also talks about advanced equipment in terms of border control and observation.
The LAF is in urgent need to replenish its ammunition for future conflicts with ISIS. They were expecting the Arsal battle to spread to other border towns. Similar scenarios are expected in ther border towns, so all efforts are focusing on monitoring these towns and especially the refugees coming across the border.
Syria Deeply: What are the new developments in the LAF's military strategy in fighting ISIS?
Nerguizian: The LAF had been planning for some kind of an attack. But they are novices at this, and they haven't been in these sorts of combat scenarios outside of urban theaters. They made very heavy use of things like intelligence surveillance and reconnaissance, and artillery and guided fire. They also for the first time used guided munitions.
They did two things they hadn't done before. One is the use of guided air weapons. The second thing is really trying to tie all of this [ground action] into a live video and audio feed, conducting operations with real time data streaming in. This informs what they're asking for from the U.S.: for more assets to support the reconnaissance missions.
This article originally appeared on Syria Deeply.