U.S. Worried over Syrian Crisis’ ‘Spillover Effect’ on Lebanon
The United State has expressed deep concern over the violence in the northern city of Tripoli and the kidnappings spree of Syrian and Turkish nationals across Lebanon.
“We are very concerned about this violence and the spillover effect from what’s going on in Syria, and particularly the latest violence in Tripoli,” State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said Tuesday.
At least seven people have been killed in gunbattles between the rival Tripoli neighborhoods of Bab al-Tabbaneh and Jabal Mohsen since Monday, a clear sign that Syria’s war, which began with a popular uprising in March 2011, has spilled over into Lebanon.
The majority of Bab al-Tabbaneh residents are Sunnis supporting the Syrian revolution while Jabal Mohsen is mostly Alawite, the sect of Syrian President Bashar Assad.
The U.S. is also concerned about the “ongoing reports of retribution, kidnappings across Lebanon, and we are continuing both publicly and privately to call on all parties to exercise restraint, to respect Lebanese security and stability,” Nuland said.
Al-Meqdad clan has claimed the abduction of around 20 Syrians and a Turkish national in retaliation to the rebel Free Syrian Army’s kidnapping of a family member, Hassan al-Meqdad, in Damascus last week.
However the clan said it was not responsible for the disappearance of a second Turkish citizen.
Several other Syrians have gone missing since the family announced that its military wing stopped the abductions last Thursday. It was not clear who was behind the disappearances.
“We have been commending – and we are continuing to do so – the efforts of the Lebanese Armed Forces and the Internal Security Forces to respond and try to quell this violence where they can and to set the good example that they do of a nonsectarian Lebanon,” Nuland said.
“But it’s obviously very worrying and a bad example of negative spillover,” she added.