Lebanese army moves on Tripoli to end fighting
Published Tuesday, May 15, 2012
The Lebanese army deployed Tuesday in sectors of Tripoli affected by clashes, calming the area after three days of sectarian fighting that killed nine people, an AFP correspondent said.
Troops entered Syria Street, the frontline of fighting between the majority Sunni Muslim district of Bab el-Tebbaneh, and Jabal Mohsen, whose residents are mostly Alawi, at around 6:00am.
Tension between the two neighborhoods in the north Lebanon city had been simmering for years but burst into the open several times after a revolt in Syria against President Bashar Assad's regime broke out in March 2011.
Lebanese army units started positioning themselves in the two districts late Monday evening and completed their deployment on Tuesday morning in all neighborhoods affected by clashes.
"Thank God, the army has entered and we have peace now," Bab el-Tebbaneh resident Ahmed Jaber told AFP by telephone.
"Some of the people who had fled the area have started to return, but most are still scared because fighting has resumed in the past even after the army has been deployed," he added.
Meanwhile, a clean-up operation began in Bab al-Tabbaneh, with bulldozers removing both roadblocks set up by armed gunmen, and unexploded munitions.
Lebanese electricity company teams also started work in the beleaguered district, after violent clashes left residents of the neighborhood without power.
Battles first erupted on Saturday between residents of the rival neighborhoods after general security arrested Shadi al-Mawlawi, a Sunni Islamist, on charges of belonging to a terrorist organization.
Rival factions unaffiliated with the neighborhoods had also deployed armed men onto the streets of Tripoli on Monday, raising fears of an escalation of violence after Mawlawi's charges were filed by the Military Court.
Islamists and Salafis are demanding the release of Mawlawi, and have set up a sit-in at Al Nour Square in Tripoli.
A total of nine people, including a soldier hit by sniper fire, died in the port city and dozens were wounded in the fighting.