Former Lebanese PM accuses Damascus of inciting Tripoli violence
Former Prime Minister Saad Hariri accused the Syrian regime Saturday of inciting violence in Tripoli, saying Damascus seeks to punish the northern Lebanese city.
Hariri also held the Lebanese government fully responsible for “abandoning” the city, saying the state should restore stability “or it will be an accomplice in the war that the Syrian regime has launched.”
Fighting in Tripoli entered its sixth day Saturday as the death toll from this latest round of violence reached 10. Fighting has repeated broken out between rival pro- and anti-Syrian regime neighborhoods in the city since the beginning of the Syria crisis in 2011.
“Yes, the Syrian regime has decided to launch a dirty war on Tripoli and its residents via its local tools,” Hariri said in a statement.
“Just because the Internal Security Forces information Branch succeeded in discovering the terrorist network responsible for the Tripoli bombings, the order was issued to punish Tripoli and drag its residents into a fight against each other,” he added.
Hariri, who has a strong support base in Tripoli, was referring to the Aug. 23 twin car bombs that targeted two separate mosques in the city, killing at least 47 people and wounding over 100.
A Lebanon prosecutor charged seven people for involvement in the blasts aimed at assassinating prominent sheikhs in Tripoli. Preliminary investigating have linked some of the suspects to the Syrian Intelligence and a pro-Assad Alawite party.
“The head of all crimes in Damascus is the mastermind of all crimes and he is the one who seeks to drown the city in armed chaos [and] overpower its residents with militias which are being armed by local sides known by the state and its agencies,” he said.
Clashes in Tripoli, Lebanon's second largest city, between supporters and opponents of President Bashar Assad erupted Monday following a televised interview with the Syrian leader.
This is the 17th round of fighting between the rival neighborhoods of Bab al-Tabbaneh with a Sunni majority and Jabal Mohsen where most of Tripoli’s Alawite community resides since the crisis began in Syria in March of 2011.
Hariri also criticized the high-level security meeting convened by President Michel Sleiman earlier this week in Baabda for failing to produce tangible results on the ground and restore calm to the city.
"Is it acceptable for the Lebanese Army with its elite units to become a false witness in the war against Tripoli? Is it right for security agencies and local officials to monitor the situation and announce their inability to confront the dangers in the city?” asked Hariri, the head of the Future Movement.
"As for us, we will not be silent toward the injustice in Tripoli ... we hold the state with all its official, security and military agencies fullly responsibility for abandoning the city and its residents and leaving it an arena for such armed chaos,” he said.