BEIRUT: Caretaker Defense Minister Fayez Ghosn stressed Monday that the security situation in Tripoli had improved, but that the Army would continue to enforce the security plan in the northern city.
“The situation in Tripoli and the north is better than before, but it is still not ideal,” Ghosn said. “The measures taken by the Lebanese Army and the rest of the security forces will continue in order to bring the situation back to normal.”
The government authorized the Army to take charge of Tripoli’s security last week following 18 rounds of clashes related to the civil war in neighboring Syria.
Fighters in Bab al-Tabbaneh, a mainly Sunni neighborhood that supports the Syria uprising, have frequently fought with their rivals in Jabal Mohsen, a predominantly Alawite neighborhood that supports the regime of President Bashar Assad.
Army chief, Gen. Jean Kahwagi, said the military’s security plan was limited to pursuing gunmen and people who have outstanding arrest warrants. But a number of gunmen from Bab al-Tabbaneh opened fire at Army patrols last week and protested the military’s arrests, saying the Army only targeted the Sunni sect.
Ghosn emphasized the need for “political calm to parallel security measures,” adding that everyone involved had realized the dangers of the situation in north Lebanon, particularly in light of the overall political division in the country.
Separately, Ghosn said that the Army was ready to cope with the upcoming storm which is expected to hit Lebanon Tuesday.
“As usual, the Lebanese Army, through security operations that it is implementing in the north and the rest of Lebanon, has taken a series of measures to cope with the storm and help citizens, especially in mountainous areas,” Ghosn said.
“The Army will be on the ready to deal with the storm,” he stressed, asking individuals to fully cooperate with the security measures and instructions which will be announced.
The winter’s first snowstorm, named “Alexa,” is due to last for an entire week. It will be accompanied by intense cold and snowfall at medium altitudes in the north, between 1,000-1,500 meters.