Tuesday, December 3, 2013
Lebanon puts northern city of Tripoli under control of the army
People in Tripoli run for cover as fighting goes on. (AFP)
Lebanon Monday put Tripoli under the Army’s control for six months in an attempt to end recurrent sectarian fighting in the northern city linked to the war in Syria. Shortly after the announcement was made by caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati following a high-level security meeting at Baabda Palace, the Army staged raids in and around Tripoli’s rival neighborhoods in search of gunmen’s hideouts and weapons.
The measure, which fell short of declaring the restive city a military zone, came as troops and security forces bolstered their presence in Tripoli, where 13 people have been killed and over 80 wounded in three days of clashes between supporters and opponents of Syrian President Bashar Assad.
The new security measures, due to be implemented Tuesday morning, failed however to diminish the intensity of the violence. An intermittent lull in fighting was shattered by nightfall as gunmen from the mainly Sunni Bab al-Tabbaneh neighborhood exchanged mortar fire, rocket-propelled grenades and machine-gun fire with their rivals in the mostly Alawite Jabal Mohsen district. One man died of injuries related to the fighting Monday, while more than 20 people were wounded in the ongoing battles, security sources said.
Residents in Bab al-Tabbaneh support the anti-Assad uprising, while those in Jabal Mohsen, a neighborhood perched on a hill, are against the attempt to unseat fellow Alawite Assad. Sniper fire kept the main highway that links Tripoli with Akkar paralyzed, security sources said. Schools, universities, banks and other businesses were mostly shuttered in Tripoli, as empty streets rang with the occasional sounds of gunfire.