U.S. Urges 'De-Escalation of Tensions' in Lebanon


The United States on Thursday urged an easing of tensions in Lebanon after deadly violence in a Beirut suburb sparked fears of a return to sectarian strife.

"We join Lebanese authorities in their call for calm, their calls for a de-escalation of tensions," State Department spokesman Ned Price told reporters.

At least six people were killed and 32 others wounded after gunfire erupted during a demonstration by Hizbullah and Amal Movement, who were rallying against a judge investigating a massive blast last year at the Beirut port.

The United States declined comment on who was responsible but reiterated its criticism of Hizbullah, an Iranian-backed group which Washington considers a "terrorist" group.

"The future of Lebanon's democracy depends on the ability of its citizens to address the difficult issues with confidence in the rule of law," Price said.

"Judges must be free from violence. They must be free of threats. They must be free of intimidation, including that of Hizbullah," he said.

Hizbullah and Amal blamed the Lebanese Forces party and accused it of deploying "snipers" on rooftops.

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