TRIPOLI, Lebanon: Sniper fire killed one man in Tripoli Sunday as the Army arrested gunmen and seized arms as part of a plan aimed at restoring order to the northern city. Army intervention follows five days of renewed clashes between pro- and anti-Assad factions that have left at least 17 people dead.
Adel Othman was the man killed by sniper fire in the Jabal Mohsen neighborhood, security sources said.
While relative calm prevailed in Lebanon’s second largest city, the Army arrested 18 gunmen and seized quantities of arms, ammunition and military hardware in Al-Zahriyeh neighborhood in Tripoli after a military patrol came under fire in the area, according to an Army statement.
An Army unit also raided some places in Al-Qibeh neighborhood after shots were fired from the area, seizing a quantity of arms and ammunition, the statement said. The arrested gunmen and the seized arms were delivered to the relevant authorities, it added.
The Army and Internal Security Forces stepped up their armored patrols in addition to setting up mobile and stationery checkpoints in Tripoli’s main streets, inspecting cars and motorbike riders. Authorities are attempting to prevent continued hostilities between armed supporters and opponents of Syrian President Bashar Assad entrenched in the Sunni dominant Bab al-Tabbaneh district and the mainly-Alawite neighborhood of Jabal Mohsen.
Security forces also raided some houses in Bab al-Tabbaneh, Jabal Mohsen, al-Bakkar, Rifa and al-Maloula in search of gunmen. Soldiers clashed with members of the pro-Hezbollah Al-Moury family, an armed clan, after the Army attempted on several occasions to raid an infirmary known to belong to the group.
A total of 120 people have been wounded in the clashes since Monday.
Civil society groups held a sit-in Sunday outside the headquarters of the Tripoli Municipality, calling for the disarmament of the city and voicing frustration over the repeated outbreaks of fighting.
The head of Tripoli Municipality, Nader Ghazal, said there was an immediate need to disarm all groups in north Lebanon, saying “the people are fed up.”
Despite a cease-fire agreed to last week among figures of both neighborhoods, fighting intensified Friday following the death by sniper fire of anti-Assad Salafist Sheikh Khaled Baradie, leaving two killed and 21 wounded, including a foreign journalist.
The cease-fire agreement also called on the Lebanese Army to heavily deploy and restore order and security in the city. Soldiers were seen Sunday patrolling the front line of the rival areas and responding to sporadic sniper fire.
The violence has left Tripoli almost completely deserted, with most shops closed and residents confining themselves to their homes.
In the latest attempts to restore security to the city, a meeting was held Sunday at Future MP Mohammad Kabbara’s home in Tripoli, attended by senior security officials, some Future MPs and religious figures. Sunday’s was the fifth such meeting held at Kabbara’s home since the fighting erupted in Tripoli last Monday.
In a statement issued after the meeting, the participants called on the rival factions to adhere to the cease-fire agreement and not to respond to the fire.
“They called on the Lebanese Army to shore up security in tense areas and prevent security violations. They also called on Internal Security Forces to consolidate security in the city’s other areas,” the statement said.
The leaders asked security forces to deal firmly with the phenomenon of “individual attacks” targeting shops on a sectarian basis.
The participants urged the government to treat the wounded people and pay the costs of their hospitalization. They asked the government to assign the state-run Higher Relief Committee to assess the damage and pay compensations for lost lives or material losses as a result of the fighting. The government was also urged to prepare a socio-economic developmental project for deprived areas in the north.