TRIPOLI, Lebanon: Security forces deployed early Friday in Tripoli as part of a plan to ensure safety and stability in the northern city.
Members of the Army, Internal Security Forces and General Security established checkpoints across Tripoli.
Checkpoints were posted at entrances to neighborhoods such as Abu Samra, Qibbeh and Bab al-Tabbaneh. The security forces also established checkpoints in the Haykalieh area linking Tripoli to Koura and in the Majdlaya area linking Tripoli to Zghorta.
An operation room for the security forces was also established in Maarad Street to coordinate between the various agencies.
In remarks published earlier Friday, caretaker Interior Minister Marwan Charbel said that the implementation of the security plan in Tripoli was aimed at protecting the city from possible car bombs, but he added that the measures had other purposes which he said will be revealed later.
“The plan is formed of two missions: the first is to protect Tripoli from the outside, that is to prevent car bombs from entering as well as revealing the [gunmen] networks, and the second mission will be announced after caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati returns to Lebanon,” Charbel told Al-Liwaa newspaper.
Security sources told The Daily Star that the security forces plan to conduct raids on some neighborhoods in Tripoli to confiscate arms in the city.
The sources said that a number of Tripoli militia commanders have voiced their reluctance over the possibility of handing in their weapons to the state.
“Others said they are willing to do so,” the sources said.
Tripoli’s security plan came following the implementation of a similar scheme in Beirut’s southern suburbs. Late last month, security forces deployed in the Hezbollah stronghold replacing the party’s own security measures which were enforced following two car bombings in the densely populated area that left 30 people dead and over 300 wounded in July and August.
Twin car bombings in Tripoli killed 47 people and wounded over 500 on Aug. 23.
Another major security problem in the city has been intermittent battles between opponents and rivals of the Assad regime linked to the crisis in the neighboring Syria.
Some residents seemed a bit skeptical about the potential effectiveness of the security plan in the city while others pinned hope that the deployment of security forces would lead to a breakthrough for Tripoli.
“The security plan only causes traffic and does not solve the complicated security situation in the country,” Mohammad Tamer, a taxi driver from the city, told The Daily Star.
He said that those responsible for the battles in Tripoli - a reference to militia commanders and fighters - hide in Tripoli’s souks and in alleys inside the city.
“This is where the security forces should be deploying and not at the entrances of the city to inspect papers of citizens,” he said.
Another resident, a barber named Ahmad al-Beli, hailed the security plan and hoped it would put an end to battles in the city.
“The plan is good and imposing security is a demand by all residents of Tripoli,” he said.
“However sometimes when battles start, security forces withdraw and we hope that the plan would change that and include firm measures to end conflicts in Tripoli,” he added.
For his part, Ghassan Hamze, a bank employee, said the plan is not “serious enough” and classified it as mere “media publicity.”
“It is propaganda and nothing more,” he said.
Ali Selhdar, a fisherman from Mina, hoped the plan would be implemented for a long term and said it should be accompanied by a development plan to improve the situation of the city.
“Security is very important of course and we welcome the authorities’ procedures but we also beed development to ensure stability in the city,” he said.