BEIRUT: Former Prime Minister Saad Hariri reiterated Tuesday his call for declaring Tripoli an arms-free city and blasted the regime of President Bashar Assad, accusing Damascus of instigating the repeated deadly clashes that have plagued the northern city.
"We once again call for Tripoli to be declared an arms-free city and for an end to all the disturbances it is experiencing,” Hariri said, according to a statement from his office.
"Tripoli belongs first and foremost to its people, from all sects and movements. It is not a mailbox for miscalculated conflicts or an arena for settling political accounts and regional aspirations,” he added
“It will not be, under any circumstance, a hotbed for the Syrian regime and its allies in Lebanon,” the leader of the Future Movement said.
Tripoli has witnessed 18 rounds of clashes between supporters and opponents of the regime in Damascus since the uprising against President Bashar Assad in early 2011 began. The clashes that erupted this weekend killed 13 people and wounded more than 100.
“It seems that the supporters of the Syrian regime in Lebanon don’t want Tripoli to rest or to put an end to the tension and chaos that plague it with each round of combat,” he said.
He also expressed confidence that Tripoli would remain under the jurisdiction of the state and under the rule of law which he said should achieve justice and security.
Last week’s clashes erupted after repeated attacks against Alawite residents of the city.
A local group claimed responsibility for some of the attacks, warning of similar incidents if the suspects in the Aug. 23 Tripoli bombings are not handed over to authorities.
Twin car bombings targeted separate mosques in Tripoli on Aug. 23 killing 47 people.
Seven suspects have been charged with involvement in the explosions. Some of the suspects have links to the pro-Assad Arab Democratic Party based in Jabal Mohsen and Syrian intelligence.
“We are also confident that the forces in the city will stand against all attempts to evade justice and cover up the crimes and bombings that targeted it,” Hariri said.
He also commented on the situation in Syria’s Christian town of Maaloula, saying the Syrian regime had allowed extremist rebel forces to retake control of the historic area.
“The regime of Bashar Assad is overjoyed nowadays of having divided the Syrian Revolution and allowed the return of Jabhat al Nusra or ISIS and other Al-Qaeda groups to the Christian town of Maaloula, which falls now under the control of armed groups that do not respect the concepts of the Revolution, its values and objectives,” he said.
He said news of rebels forcibly evacuating nuns from Maaloula “should make every Syrian struggling for freedom and human dignity feel ashamed.”
The former prime minister, who has been a supporter of the Syrian opposition, also called on Syrian leaders and figures inside Syria and abroad to work on releasing the nuns and securing their safety.
“Assaulting citizens, detaining monks and nuns and breaching the sanctity of churches and monasteries and religious symbols are indecent and unacceptable acts that all honorable Syrians should denounce, in addition to all those who are concerned with leading Syria toward a democratic civil regime that protects everyone’s rights to the freedom of belief and expression,” he said.