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Bkirki Delegation Tours Sidon: Extremists a Small Minority, Arms Can't Solve Problems

A delegation from the Maronite patriarchate that toured Sidon on Friday said exremists are only a "small minority" and that they pose a threat to both Christians and Muslims, as former premier Fouad Saniora lauded the Maronite bishops' latest statement that stressed the importance of the army's role in protecting all the Lebanese.

"We met with the governor, the officials, the army and the religious leaders and we tell Sidon that what happened was something that the city did not want and it was not part of its spirit or of the Sidon we know," Bishop Boulos Sayyah, who was accompanied by two bishops, said after meeting with the city's dignitaries.

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Asir's Supporters Protest in Sidon, Attack TV Crews

Hundreds of men and women supporting Salafist cleric Sheikh Ahmed al-Asir marched from Bilal Bin Rabah Mosque after Friday prayers, heading to al-Karameh roundabout in the southern city of Sidon.

The protestors assaulted TV crews in Abra, smashing the windows of their cars and breaking their cameras during the march.

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Energy Minister Warns Israel that Army, Resistance Can Protect Lebanon Oil Reserves

Caretaker Energy Minister Jebran Bassil issued a warning on Friday that the army and the resistance have the ability to protect Lebanon's oil reserves from Israel after he accused it of digging a well 4 kilometers from Lebanese offshore reserves.

During a press conference he held at the ministry, Bassil said: “Israel now has the ability to reach Lebanon's oil reserves.”

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Judge Abu Ghida to Interrogate Abra Suspects Monday

First Military Investigation Judge Riyad Abu Ghida received on Friday the case of the detained suspects in Abra clashes a day after State Commissioner to the Military Court Judge Saqr Saqr charged 27 people, 10 of them in absentia.

According to the state-run National News Agency, Abu Ghida will interrogate the suspects on Monday over the deadly clashes with the Lebanese army in the southern town of Abra near the city of Sidon.

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Kidnapped Baalbek Man, 8 Syrians Released in Swap

Mohammed al-Tufayli, a Lebanese man kidnapped in the eastern city of Baalbek last week, has been released in a swap that involved eight Syrians abducted by his family, Voice of Lebanon radio (93.3) reported Friday.

VDL said that the exchange took place on Thursday night. It did not give further details.

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Suleiman Fails to Bridge Miqati-Berri Differences on Parliament Session

Attempts by President Michel Suleiman to bring viewpoints closer between Speaker Nabih Berri and Caretaker Premier Najib Miqati on a controversial parliamentary session have failed, media reports said Friday.

Local dailies quoted informed sources as saying that a meeting held between Suleiman, Berri and Miqati at Baabda palace on Wednesday night focused on the constitutionality of the session that the speaker has called for.

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Report: Hizbullah, FSA Clash in Bekaa Towns

Fierce clashes erupted between Hizbullah fighters and the Free Syrian Army rebels in several Bekaa towns, media reports said on Friday.

The clashes took place overnight Thursday in the Bekaa towns of Nabi Sheet and Brital and al-Khodr, according to the reports.

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Bassil Says Army Command Won't be Vacant if Qahwaji Retired

Free Patriotic Movement caretaker Energy Minister Jebran Bassil stressed on Friday the military institution will not be hit by vacuum if Army commander General Jean Qahwaji was referred to retirement.

“All the public institutions, in particular the security agency, can't suffer from vacant posts as the hierarchy prevents it,” Bassil said in comments published al-Akhbar newspaper.

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Asir in Alleged Audio Message Speaks of Plot to End His Presence in Abra

Sheikh Ahmed al-Asir, whose fate became uncertain after the army stormed his headquarters on June 24, resurfaced Thursday in an alleged audio message in which he described the deadly Sidon clashes as a plot aimed at ending his presence.

“You will know and everyone must know the normal context of the incident, or rather the massacre, that happened, which is not an isolated incident, as we had raised the voice several times over the attacks of the Party of Satan (Hizbullah), the criminal AMAL Movement and the shabiha (thugs) of the so-called Lebanese army, which is in the service of Hizbullah, AMAL Movement, the criminal Syrian regime and the Iranian regime,” Asir says in the audio recording.

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Gemayel Stresses from Sidon Need for National Plan to Tackle Illegitimate Arms, Groups

Phalange Party leader Amin Gemayel stated on Thursday that the recent clashes in the southern city of Sidon demonstrated that all sides must adhere to the state and its official armed forces.

He said: “We are in great need of a national plan and an expanded meeting of political forces to tackle the spread of illegitimate arms and groups.”

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