Report: Palestinian Factions Vow Neutrality after Asir Asks for Military Aid

Salafist cleric Sheikh Ahmed al-Asir reportedly contacted Palestinian factions in the Ain el-Hilweh refugee camp asking for a military aid.

According to al-Akhbar newspaper published on Wednesday, Asir asked the Palestinian groups to launch rockets from Ain el-Hilweh towards Haret Sidon.

However, the Palestinian leadership in the refugee camp contacted Asir and other sides demanding them to "neutralize" Ain el-Hilweh.

The report said that an urgent meeting was held in the refugee camp after clashes erupted between Asir and the Hizbullah-affiliated Resistance Brigades in the southern port city of Sidon.

The representative of Hamas movement, according to al-Akhbar, stressed during the meeting that the priority is to prevent the security chaos from spilling over into the other Palestinian camps in Lebanon.

Clashes erupted on Tuesday afternoon between supporters of Asir, the imam of Sidon's Bilal bin Rabah Mosque, and the Resistance Brigades in the Sidon neighborhood of Abra, leaving at least one person dead and four others wounded.

The Lebanese army deployed in Sidon as the violence comes amid soaring sectarian tensions in Lebanon that have escalated because of the raging war in neighboring Syria.

The army said several people were wounded by the gunfire.

Asir, who espouses an austere form of Sunni Islam, is known for his opposition to Hizbullah.

He has alleged several times that the group uses several apartments in Abra to stockpile weapons and house fighters.

According to the army, the violence broke out after a car accident in the southern city, when "armed men took to the streets in Abra and opened fire... and wounded several people."

Sectarian tensions pitting Sunnis against Shiites have soared in fragile Lebanon as the spillover from Syria's war has escalated.

Though Lebanon has officially adopted a position of neutrality in Syria's war, Hizbullah and its allies back the Damascus regime of President Bashar Assad.

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