BEIRUT: Former Prime Minister Saad Hariri Thursday praised the smooth implementation of Tripoli’s security plan, which is aimed at ending violence in the restive city as security forces further expanded their operations.
“We must praise the success of the measures taken by the government to implement the security plan,” Hariri whose bloc comprises of three Tripoli MPs said in a statement.
“This demonstrates that the state is capable of imposing its authority and taking the lead in all areas whenever it decides to take a wise national decision."
Hariri said he was following the details of the implementation process, which began Tuesday in an attempt to end the recurrent deadly clashes in Lebanon’s second-largest city.
“I look forward to the day when Tripoli is fully recovered, and I commend the efforts of the Justice and Interior ministries, Future bloc lawmakers, local figures, as well as civil society activists."
The military has far detained 108 suspects accused of taking part in Syria-linked clashes as per 200 judicial warrants issued by the public prosecutor earlier this week.
Tripoli has been plagued with at least 20 rounds of fighting between Alawite supporters of President Bashar Assad in Jabal Mohsen and residents of the Sunni majority neighborhood of Bab al-Tabbaneh, which backs the Syrian opposition, killing over 100 people since the uprising against the regime began in 2011.
“The scenes of reconciliation between Tripoli residents particularly those who lived in conflict zones ... warmed everyone’s hearts because it represented their true feelings that reject violence and civil war and their desire to coexist,” Hariri said.
The National News Agency said Internal Security Forces Information Branch apprehended a Tripoli-based sheikh who is a close associate of militant preacher Sheikh Omar Bakri Fustoq. Sheikh Msheer Khodr who is suspected of having links to Al-Qaeda was detained in Halba, north Lebanon.
The Army raided Fustoq's residence Wednesday but did not find him.
Meanwhile, the head of the Alawite Islamic Council urged reconciliation between local leaders in Tripoli after Ali Eid, head of the Arab Democratic Party that represents Lebanon's Alawite community, reportedly went into hiding.
“I call on the state to reconsider reconciliation from the top all the way down to the bottom in order for [the reconciliation] to survive and flourish," Sheikh Assad Assi said during a news conference in the city.
He pointed to a Sept. 2008 agreement that was signed by top leaders in Tripoli to end months of bloody clashes between Jabal Mohsen and Bab al-Tabbaneh.
That agreement was reached after a reconciliatory meeting between Eid and Hariri.
In a rare display of solidarity Wednesday, residents of Jabal Mohsen and Bab al-Tabbaneh celebrated as hundreds of Lebanese soldiers deployed to restore peace and stability to Tripoli.
Speculation circulated about the whereabouts of Eid, the ADP head and a former MP, following the Army crackdown that began Tuesday.
Assi defended the gunmen and the so-called “field commanders,” saying they were “victims of their [political] bosses.”
“They are heroes ... They fought for their Islam and their honor,” he said.
The Lebanese Army carried out more raids Thursday in search of suspects wanted by authorities as many of the militia leaders fled the city in anticipation of the plan.