Lebanon: Troops deploy to restore order as death toll climbs to over 80
Lebanon's army intensified patrols in Mount Lebanon areas on Tuesday as part of a move to restore order after a week of fighting between Hizbullah fighters and pro-government gunmen. So far, the army has stayed neutral in the conflict, which has killed 81 people, wounded 250.
Police said 62 dead had been registered, but sources said they recognised the actual figure was likely to be higher. Overall, Lebanon was experiencing its calmest day since violence flared on May 7 after Prime Minister Fouad Siniora outlawed Hizbullah's communications network and sacked Beirut airport's security chief, Brig. Gen. Wafiq Shoqeir, who is close to the Shi'ite movement.
According to Reuters, the army command announced on Monday night it would work to end all armed presence in cities and villages from 6 a.m. (0300 GMT) and authorised troops to use force if necessary. A security source said the army's orders were to arrest gunmen on the streets, take over armed positions and seize suspected arms depots.
Troops took over more positions held by Druze forces loyal to pro-government leader Walid Jumblatt. "The security situation in the mountain is stable after the army move," said Akram Shuhayeb, a lawmaker and Jumblatt aide.
The army also expanded its presence in the northern city of Tripoli, where small-scale clashes continued overnight between Sunni gunmen and Alawites allied to Hizbullah.