HRW Appeals to Lebanon over Syrian Spillover in Tripoli

An international human rights organization has urged Lebanon to rein in sectarian tensions that have been on the rise amid a spillover of Syria's civil war.

Human Rights Watch said Friday that authorities should better protect minority Alawites — members of an offshoot Shiite sect — who are increasingly coming under attack by Sunnis in the northern city of Tripoli.

The New York-based watchdog said Alawites in Tripoli's Jabal Mohsen district have been beaten and stabbed, and the whole community has endured gunbattles and mortar attacks over the past year.

Syria's nearly 3-year-old conflict has deepened sectarian tensions in Lebanon, where factions loyal to Syria's warring sides often clash.

Sunnis support Syrian rebels trying to topple President Bashar Assad's government, which is dominated by Alawites.

“Lebanese authorities should take all feasible steps to protect Tripoli residents by confiscating weapons that have been used to kill residents such as mortars, rocket-propelled grenades, and automatic weapons, arresting and prosecuting gunmen, and maintaining an active security presence in all communities,” HRW said.

“With battles going on in Tripoli and with people being targeted, beaten, knifed, and killed, the Lebanese government can’t afford to sit on its hands,” said deputy Middle East director at HRW Joe Stork.

“It needs to start arresting and prosecuting the people behind the violence in Tripoli and confiscate their weapons.”

The organization also criticized the government’s security plan for the city, saying it was “weak.”

Source: Associated Press, Naharnet

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