Lebanese army carries out raids on Tripoli's militants after taking charge of the restive city
The Lebanese army on Tuesday carried out raids in Tripoli, a day after the country's top leaders authorized the military to take charge of security in Lebanon's second-largest city for six months.
Monday's decision was taken at a meeting between President Michel Suleiman, army chief Gen. Jean Qahwaji and caretaker Prime Minister Najib Miqati.
According to the decision, the army would also be in charge of carrying out arrests ordered by the judiciary.
The first aspects of the agreement among the top officials was implemented on Tuesday morning. Heavy gunfire was heard in the city's internal markets between Bab al-Ramel and al-Mulla mosque after the army raided militant hideouts.
Voice of Lebanon radio (93.3) said the army arrested Ahmed al-Shami who is accused of seizing an armored personnel carrier.
Security measures such as patrols and checkpoints have already been increased in the port city with the assistance of the Internal Security Forces that have been put under the command of the army.
But intermittent sniper fire continued to shake Tripoli on Tuesday.
The fighting in the city is linked to the war raging in neighboring Syria. Bab al-Tabbaneh district, which is majority Sunni, and Jabal Mohsen, whose residents are from Syrian President Bashar Assad's sect, have been engaged in severe gunbattles since the revolt against him in March 2011.
Tensions soared in the city in August when twin car bombings hit Sunni mosques that left hundreds of casualties.
Authorities arrested several members of the Arab Democratic Party, whose stronghold is in Jabal Mohsen, on suspicion they were involved and they summoned the group's leader, Ali Eid, for questioning.
Eid has refused to be questioned by police for not being “impartial.”
His son, Rifaat, said his father is ready to go to any security agency other than the ISF Intelligence Branch.
The latest round of violence erupted last week when Jabal Mohsen residents were shot in their feet in vengeful sectarian attacks.