Charbel Calls for Decisive Measures as Two People Die in Saturday’s Clashes

Interior Minister Marwan Charbel and Tripoli lawmakers said Saturday that the Lebanese government should take “decisive measures” to resolve the situation in the northern city as sniper activity and clashes renewed in the city breaching its fragile peace.

During a press conference that Charbel held before heading a security meeting, he hoped the meeting would be the start to the implementation of measures that would limit Tripoli's problems and lead to talks between the warring parties after days of gunbattles between the residents of two neighborhoods left scores of casualties.

“It is about time for us to learn and think about the interest of Tripoli,” Charbel said.

“The security situation is reflecting negatively on the economy. Shops are closing and people are emigrating,” he warned.

“We hope that we could control the situation … which is linked in a way or another to the developments around us and mainly the war in Syria,” he told reporters before heading the meeting that was attended by Police chief Joseph al-Duweihi, Governor of the North Nassif Qaloush and several other security officials.

“No one is emerging victorious in the (Tripoli) fighting,” Charbel said after the six-day gunbattles between the mainly Sunni Bab al-Tabbaneh neighborhood and Jabal Mohsen, whose residents are from Syrian President Bashar Assad's Alawite sect, left at least 12 people dead.

The minister said the government should take “decisive measures” at the meeting of the Higher Defense Council scheduled to be held at Baabda Palace on Sunday.

However, sniper activity renewed in the city in Syria street, which separates between the rival neighborhoods of Bab al-Tabbaneh and Jabal Mohsen.

The National News Agency reported that the army is responding to the sources of fire.

It said that an energa-type grenade fell on Bab al-Tabbaneh neighborhood.

Meanwhile, LBCI reported Saturday evening that a military official in the Arab Democratic Party identified as Ghassan Aref died as a result of the clashes.

The channel also announced that a member from the Mahfoud family was killed in Jabal Mohsen by sniper gun fire.

A planned meeting between Charbel and Bab al-Tabbaneh officials was canceled in the evening over their failure to come out of the neighborhood due to fears of sniper fire.

Also Saturday, lawmakers from Tripoli and the North called on President Michel Suleiman and Prime Minister Najib Miqati to “seriously” resolve the situation in Tripoli during the planned Higher Defense Council meeting.

In a statement read by al-Mustaqbal bloc MP Samir al-Jisr, the MPs said the political cover should be lifted and security forces should deploy heavily in the city.

The statement added that the government should compensate the losses suffered by the residents of the city.

Tripoli Municipal chief Nader Ghazal also urged the city's residents to participate in a sit-in outside the Serail on Monday to call for stability and the return of Tripoli Mufti Sheikh Malek al-Shaar, who traveled to France after he received information that he could be the target of an assassination plot.

The Lebanese Army said in a communique on Friday that it is continuing to implement measures to restore security in the city.

It said it arrested several people on Thursday on suspicion of opening fire, and confiscated weapons and ammunition from gunmen.

The Army also called on the residents of Tripoli to cooperate with it and “immediately inform it about any armed or suspicious activity.”

The communique added that seven soldiers suffered minor wounds from sniper fire Thursday

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