Army Command Stresses Keenness on Places of Worship, Vows to 'Suppress Sedition'إقرأ هذا الخبر بالعربية
The Army Command on Monday stressed its "keenness on places of worship" after its troops closed in on Sheikh Ahmed al-Asir's gunmen who entrenched themselves in the Bilal bin Rabah Mosque in Abra.
"Army units continue their military operations in the city of Sidon and the area of Abra to stamp down armed activities, arrest those who attacked army positions and restore security and stability,” the Command said in a statement.
“A lot of gunmen fired sniper shots at army troops while using religious centers as barricades, in addition to turning innocent civilians into human shields to avoid direct confrontation with army forces,” the statement added.
The Army Command stressed its “total keenness on places of worship and the lives of citizens,” while calling on “the gunmen who attacked army positions and citizens … to surrender their weapons and turn themselves in immediately to army forces to avoid further bloodshed.”
The Command noted that it knows the identities of the aforementioned gunmen “one by one.”
It stressed that “the army will press on with its efforts to suppress strife,” adding that its units “will not halt their military operations until security is fully restored in the city and its surroundings and until everyone abides by law and order.”
The Command also called on citizens, “especially those present in the conflict zone or inside al-Asir's complex and its surroundings, who are facing security problems, to contact the Army Command's Operations Directorate on the phone numbers 1701 and 01422245 in order to address these problems as soon as possible and evacuate them if necessary.”
In a previous statement, the Command said the number of troops killed in the fighting that erupted at noon Sunday rose to 16. There were also more than 50 injuries among the ranks of the soldiers.
A source close to Asir said at least five of his supporters had also been killed.