Naharnet

Hariri Urges Tripoli Residents to 'Show Solidarity to Foil Suspicious Plots'

Former Prime Minister Saad Hariri on Sunday telephoned Army Commander General Jean Qahwaji and Internal Security Forces chief Maj. Gen. Ashraf Rifi, urging military and security forces to “shoulder their responsibilities in order to stop the security deterioration and impose state authority” in the violence-hit city of Tripoli.

Hariri called for “putting an end, once and for all, to the cycle of violence that some parties want to drag the capital of the North into,” according to a statement issued by the ex-PM's press office.

The opposition leader urged “extraordinary and strict measures against anyone violating the city's security or plotting against its safety and coexistence.”

Hariri called on the city's residents to “close ranks and show solidarity in order to foil the suspicious plots that are well-known by everyone, especially state authorities who we do not believe are unaware of what's happening in Tripoli and of the operations of arming parties tasked with organizing violence rounds every now and then.”

The ex-PM urged Tripoli's residents and dignitaries, “especially those who live in neighborhoods affected by the clashes, to exercise self-restraint and patience in the face of what is being plotted against their city,” asking them to “cooperate with the relevant authorities, given that the state is the sanctuary that preserves the security of Tripoli and the safety of its people.”

Later on Sunday, Prime Minister Najib Miqati said in a Twitter message that state authorities “took clear measures that will materialize in the coming hours in Tripoli.”

Six people were killed and 40 others wounded in clashes between the rival Tripoli neighborhoods of Bab al-Tabbaneh and Jabal Mohsen on Sunday.

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 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.


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