Lebanese army sets up Sidon outposts in wake of armed clashes

Published June 19th, 2013 - 08:32 GMT
The Lebanese army deploy in the southern town of Sidon's eastern suburb of Abra. AFP photo
The Lebanese army deploy in the southern town of Sidon's eastern suburb of Abra. AFP photo

The Lebanese Army sets up Wednesday outposts in the volatile areas east of Sidon, south Lebanon, a day after armed clashes left one man killed.

Lebanese troops were seen manning at least 10 outposts in and around the eastern Sidon suburb of Abra, the scene of gunbattles Tuesday between supporters of Salafist Sheikh Ahmad Assir and a pro-Hezbollah group.

The Army, which deployed Tuesday following a tentative cease-fire arranged in negotiations between Assir, a fierce opponent of Hezbollah, and Sidon’s Mufti Salim Sousan, has vowed not to allow the security situation to deteriorate.

“The Army command warns all gunmen to immediately withdraw from the streets and it will not allow the spread of chaos and will open fire on any armed [person] and respond to sources of fire,” the military said in a statement Tuesday.

Reporters who examined the damage on buildings hit during Tuesday’s clashes saw one of the rooms of an apartment building that Assir claims owned by Hezbollah members charred.

The military prevented journalists from inspecting the apartment.

Assir had threatened to break into apartments which he claims are owned by armed members of Hezbollah in the vicinity of Abra’s Bilal bin Rabh Mosque, where the radical preacher holds sermons.

Many residents of Abra spent the night in the homes of relatives and friends in areas considered safe following the fighting.

Only one of Abra’s three schools opened Wednesday for students sitting their final exams.

“I abided by the administration call to come to school. I saw many soldiers on the road, but this comforted me,” said seventh grader Imad Nehmeh.

The clashes, which also wounded at least three people, erupted before sundown Tuesday in Qiyaa and soon spread to the Bilal bin Rabah Mosque in nearby Abra.

A volley of rocket-propelled grenades was also fired at Abra but it was not clear who fired the grenades, security sources said.

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