Asir's Second Wife Says 'Army Caught us by Surprise', Describes Sidon Battles as Conspiracyإقرأ هذا الخبر بالعربية
The second wife of Salafist cleric Sheikh Ahmed al-Asir lashed out at Hizbullah on Friday, accusing it of being intransigent about the apartments in the southern town of Abra and increasing provocative acts and infringements.
“What happened on Sunday caught us by surprise... It might be a conspiracy that prompted the army to engage in a battle with us,” Amal al-Asir told An Nahar newspaper.
She pointed out that her husband always said that the main point of contention wasn't with the army, but with Hizullah's apartments in the area.
“We had held a month-long sit-in demanding the state and army to control all weapons so we can live in peace with all the sects, without having one dominate another. We were also besieged for more than seven-months inside the Bilal bin Rabah mosque by the army, and we never attacked the army,” Amal said.
She said that she had never experienced a similar “heavy bombardment of a small area overcrowded with buildings and apartments even during the civil war.”
She criticized the army, saying that “Hizbullah dominates it, and decision-making is out of its hands.”
Amal said that Hizbullah gunmen participated in the Sidon battles alongside the troops, accusing the army of ignoring the party's continuous violations and assaults.
Soldiers battled supporters of Sheikh al-Asir in Abra on Sunday and Monday in a major gunbattle lasting 24 hours.
Asir is now on the run after 18 soldiers were killed in the clash.
On Thursday, Hizbullah vacated several apartments in the area of Abra, handing them over to the Lebanese army.
The Abra clash was the worst in Lebanon since the outbreak of conflict in neighboring Syria 27 months ago that has deepened sectarian tensions.
Although Asir's extremist discourse was unpopular with members of his Sunni sect, the army's campaign against him raised questions over why the military failed to use the same force against Hizbullah.
Sunni clerics have accused the army of covering for Hizbullah, whose troops are fighting alongside President Bashar Assad's forces in Syria.
Relatively unknown just two years ago, Asir gained prominence in Lebanon because of his virulently anti-Hizbullah, sectarian discourse.
Last year, he set up a protest tent city that closed a main road in Sidon for a month in a sit-in meant to pressure Hizbullah to disarm.
Earlier this month, he accused the army of “defending” the apartments owned by the Shiite party.
He warned he would resort to a “military option” if his demand to vacate them was not met.
Amal said that Asir told her the last time he saw her before the battles intensified that “I will see you in heaven Insha'allah.”
She told An Nahar that “we will be martyred with our heads held up high, we will not yield to anyone.”