TRIPOLI, Lebanon: Life gradually returned to normal in the northern city of Tripoli Wednesday after days of fighting between supporters and opponents of Syrian President Bashar Assad left 13 people dead. Most schools, universities, shops, and business, barring those located near the areas of the clashes, reopened in the morning following a night of peace for residents of the port city.
The once empty streets saw heavy morning traffic and locals felt safe enough go about their daily lives.
Intermittent clashes Tuesday morning made it difficult for the Army to end the violence, a day after the government gave the military exclusive power to take charge of security in the city.
But residents reported a violence-free night, which allowed the Lebanese Army, with the help of bulldozers, to dismantle barricades that had been set up by the rival gunmen along the roads leading to the embattled Tripoli neighborhoods of Jabal Mohsen and Bab al-Tabbaneh.
A statement by the Army said it had removed 12 barricades from the warring neighborhoods and several huge curtains which were hung in the streets to block the clear sight of snipers.
The military also said more arrests had been made. In a statement, it said four gunmen were arrested early in the day over involvement in the violence.
It identified them as Ahmad Yehya Saoud, Jaafar Hussein Tamer, Ahmad Mohammad Riad al-Hajj and Salah Abdel-Hamid Mohammad.
The Army said light weapons, ammunition and wireless devices were confiscated from the men, who were handed over to the relevant authorities.
The statement accused some of the four of sniping and shooting civilians and Army personnel and accused others of arms possession and shooting to intimidate people.
By Tuesday the Army had detained 21 individuals from the warring neighborhoods and eight of them had been referred to the military prosecutor’s office, according to an Army statement.
But despite the calm, some Tripoli residents expressed fear that the Army’s plan would not bring security back to the city.
Former MP Misbah al-Ahdab asked the Army Command in a news conference to explain in detail what would be the powers of the Army in the next few months, and whether it could arrest all the gunmen, especially those affiliated with Hezbollah.
Sheikh Malek Shaar, mufti for Tripoli and the north, will hold a news conference at 1 p.m. Thursday to address the recent incidents and the situation in the city.