Rifi Says Franjieh Arming Jabal Mohsen: Hizbullah Set Up Artillery, Checkpoints in Sidonإقرأ هذا الخبر بالعربية
Former Internal Security Forces chief Maj. Gen. Ashraf Rifi on Wednesday accused Marada Movement leader MP Suleiman Franjieh of supporting the mainly Alawite Tripoli neighborhood of Jabal Mohsen with weapons, criticizing Hizbullah's behavior during the Sidon clashes.
“There is nothing called leaders of frontiers and Tripoli's residents will always count on the state and its institutions,” Rifi said in an interview on Future TV.
“Suleiman Franjieh has been backing Jabal Mohsen with weapons when necessary,” he added, claiming that “arms are being sent to Zgharta through the border with Syria before being transported to Jabal Mohsen.”
“No one will attack Jabal Mohsen and we will protect it the same as we're protecting Bab al-Tabbaneh,” he added.
Commenting on reports of an alleged military role for Hizbullah during the deadly Sidon clashes, Rifi quoted witnesses as saying that “Hizbullah set up artillery positions near homes and publicly erected checkpoints.”
“The casualties among the ranks of the army are bigger than Ahmed al-Asir's ability and I hope the army will conduct a transparent probe,” he added.
He accused Hizbullah and its allies of “unacceptable practices against MP Bahia Hariri in Sidon.”
The army on Monday managed to overrun Asir's security zone in the Sidon suburb of Abra following fierce two-day clashes that left 17 troops and more than 40 wounded.
At least 20 gunmen loyal to the Islamist cleric were also killed in the battle.
Clashes erupted afrer a pro-Asir armed group attacked an army checkpoint, killing several troops.
Hizbullah MP Hasan Fadlallah clarified Tuesday that his party only defended its positions during the battle against attacks by Asir's group, denying that it played any role in the army's attack on the cleric's fortified security zone.
Turning to the Syrian crisis, the ex-ISF chief said “everyone has been implicated militarily in Syria, as Hizbullah sent trained and organized forces while some parties sent random and unorganized groups to Tall Kalakh and other areas,” adding that “everyone who did that committed a strategic mistake.”
He urged Hizbullah to reverse its decision because “Iran has changed and the region has changed.”