Army Begins Implementing Security Plan in Tripoli after Sunday Clashes Kill 6, Wound 40

The army on Sunday deployed heavily in the Tripoli neighborhood of Jabal Mohsen and its entrances, ending the deployment of gunmen there, in the first phase of its plan to restore security in Tripoli, state-run National News Agency reported, after six people were killed and 40 others wounded on Sunday alone.

“The second phase will be the deployment of the army in Bab al-Tabbaneh and all the frontiers of the clashes,” NNA said.

Shortly before the army's move, fierce clashes erupted on the Jabal Mohsen-Haret al-Barraniyeh frontier, NNA reported.

“We took clear measures that will materialize in the coming hours in Tripoli,” Prime Minister Najib Miqati, meanwhile, said in a Twitter message.

Earlier on Sunday, the Higher Defense Council convened at the Baabda Palace to discuss the latest round of clashes.

Six people were killed and 40 others wounded in clashes between the rival Tripoli neighborhoods of Bab al-Tabbaneh and Jabal Mohsen on Sunday, a security official told Agence France Presse.

The latest fighting in the northern city came amid growing international concern about the potential for neighboring countries to be dragged into the Syrian conflict.

Sunni gunmen from the port city's Bab al-Tabbaneh district exchanged machinegun and rocket fire with Alawite residents of the neighboring Jabal Mohsen district leaving three members of each community dead, the security official said.

The fighting broke a tense calm that had held since the army deployed troops between the two impoverished neighborhoods early on Friday.

During the night, troops held their positions on sidestreets but not on the ironically named Syria Street that forms the frontline.

The clashes rocked Tripoli's rival neighborhoods intermittently throughout the day, the security official said, adding that fighting was still taking place "off and on" in the afternoon.

The latest deaths brought the toll from fighting in the city since Tuesday to 19, including two children.

Longstanding tensions in Tripoli escalated in mid-week when 22 Sunnis from the city who had crossed into Syria to join the armed rebellion against the regime were killed in fighting with government troops.

Damascus later agreed to repatriate the bodies at the request of the Lebanese foreign ministry, and on Sunday the corpses of three of the slain fighters were received at the Arida border crossing.

The atmosphere was tense with shots fired into the air as the bodies of Khodr Mustafa Alameddine, Abdul Hakim al-Salah and Mohammed al-Mir were handed over, Agence France Presse reported.

The body of Mir was initially given to the wrong family but later returned to his father. The others were buried straight after funeral prayers.

A Lebanese official told AFP that Syrian authorities told their counterparts that some members of the group had survived the ambush and were being interrogated.

Opposition activists posted video footage on the Internet on Saturday, with the caption: "Abuse of the corpses of the Tripoli martyrs in Tall Kalakh."

In the video, a man is seen kicking at least five lifeless bodies lain out on the ground, while others can be heard cracking jokes in the background. Its authenticity could not be verified.

Source: Agence France Presse, Naharnet

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