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Saudi Arabia asks citizens to leave Lebanon

The file photo shows Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz (C), Crown Prince and Interior Minister Mohammed bin Nayef (R) and Defence Minister Mohamed bin Salman (C-L). (AFP)

Saudi Arabia has asked all its nationals in Lebanon to leave the country amid deteriorating political ties between Riyadh and Beirut.

The Saudi Foreign Ministry in a statement on Tuesday called on "all citizens not to travel to Lebanon, for their safety, and asking citizens residing in Lebanon or visiting not to stay unless extremely necessary."

The United Arab Emirates has also said it would pull most of its diplomats out of Lebanon and warned its own citizens not to travel there. 

Saudi Arabia suspended a $3-billion package to the Lebanese army and a remainder of $1 billion in aid to its internal security forces on Friday.

On the same day, a senior Saudi official said the kingdom was making "a comprehensive review of its relations with the Lebanese republic." The Saudi authority said that they have noticed "hostile Lebanese positions resulting from the stranglehold of Hezbollah on the State."

Reacting to the halt in Saudi aid to the Lebanese military, Hezbollah said in a statement that the decision by the Saudi regime to suspend its aid to the Lebanese army exposes the real face of Saudi Arabia and refutes its claims about fighting terrorism. Hezbollah said Riyadh’s decision is merely a political maneuver.

The $3-billion package was provided to Lebanon to buy military equipment from France.

The decision comes following recent victories by the Syrian army, backed by Lebanon’s Hezbollah resistance fighters, against the Takfiri militants fighting to topple the Damascus government.

Hezbollah fighters are also fighting against the Daesh and al-Qaeda affiliated al-Nusra Front terrorists on the outskirts of the Lebanese town of Arsal, located on the border with Syria.

Hezbollah’s leaders have accused Saudi Arabia of funding and arming terrorist groups operating across the region. 

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