Lebanon sends dozens of soldiers and rescuers to earthquake-hit Syria and Turkey

While the quake and its aftershocks were felt in Lebanon, the country has been relatively unaffected

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The Lebanese Army is sending 15 engineers to Syria and 20 to Turkey to support rescue efforts in the two countries following the devastating earthquake that has killed more than 5,000 people and reduced thousands of buildings to rubble.

The Lebanese Civil Defence, which carries out search and rescue operations as well as firefighting, is also sending units.

Meanwhile, the Lebanese Red Crescent said it was sending teams to the two countries following requests for support from the Syrian and Turkish governments.

Environment Minister Nasser Yassine said after a cabinet meeting that sending rescuers was “the minimum we can do”.

Ali Hamieh, the Lebanese Minister for Public Works and Transport, on Tuesday said "it is our duty to stand by Syria despite the difficult economic conditions we are going through”. He was alluding to the devastating economic crisis that Lebanon, home to more than a million refugees from neighbouring Syria, has been suffering from since 2019.

He also announced the waiving of taxes and fees for any humanitarian aid arriving at Lebanon’s ports and airports.

Mr Hamieh said the decision was partly motivated by the fact that some transport companies were - he claimed - reluctant to dock in Syria because of sanctions imposed on the country over Bashar Al Assad regime's actions during the country's brutal civil war.

While the earthquake that struck Turkey early on Monday morning jolted many awake in Lebanon, it has had relatively little impact on the country so far.

It is believed at least five Lebanese citizens have been killed in Turkey and Syria as a result of the quake and its aftershocks, with a handful of others still missing.

Updated: February 07, 2023, 1:34 PM