Roads Blocked, Gunmen Appear on Streets in Pro-Asir 'Day of Rage'إقرأ هذا الخبر بالعربية
Gunmen took to the streets in Tripoli and blocked roads as demos were held in Beirut's Tariq al-Jedideh in support of fugitive cleric Sheikh Ahmed al-Asir, in what protesters dubbed the Sunni sect's “day of rage.”
State-run National News Agency said armed men blocked the old seaside road that links Tripoli to Beirut at the al-Behsas area and “forced shops to close.”
The sounds of machinegun fire were reverberating across the restive northern city, NNA said.
Meanwhile, protesters blocked the Tripoli-Beirut international highway in the Palma resort area and fired gunshots in the air, as other demonstrators blocked the highway at the al-Salam roundabout at Tripoli's entrance.
LBCI television said the army went on alert in the al-Rifaiyeh area, adding that “gunfire erupted in a number of Tripoli areas as protesters replaced a large picture of (ex-PM Saad) Hariri in al-Nour Square with another for al-Asir.”
In Beirut, a sit-in organized by the Salafist Hizb ut-Tahrir party was held in the Tariq al-Jedideh neighborhood to protest the deadly clashes in the southern city of Sidon. Scores of citizens took part in the rally.
“The current events are the result of an American-Iranian conspiracy aimed at preventing the establishment of an Islamic caliphate state in the Levant,” said Hizb ut-Tahrir official Saleh Salam.
Salam blasted Hizbullah, saying “enough with taking people's minds lightly.”
Protesters vowed that they “will not remain silent over what happened in Sidon,” voicing solidarity with al-Asir.
The protests coincided with a prayer that was held in Sidon and attended by a large number of al-Asir's supporters and the area's residents.
Clashes between the army and gunmen loyal to al-Asir on Sunday and Monday left 18 troops dead and 20 others wounded. More than 20 supporters of al-Asir were also killed in the fighting.