BEIRUT: Former Prime Minister Saad Hariri Thursday praised the smooth implementation of a government security plan to end sectarian violence in Tripoli, as the Army carried out more raids the northern city in search of wanted people.
Meanwhile, Lebanese troops shot and killed a Syrian man and wounded two others after they allegedly failed to heed orders to stop at a military checkpoint near the border with Syria, security sources said.
Army commander Gen. Jean Kahwagi telephoned Prime Minister Tammam Salam to assure him about the situation in Tripoli following the implementation of the security plan by the Lebanese Army and security forces.
Salam later called the ministers of telecommunications, public works, energy, health and social affairs, urging them to alert their respective ministries to address the needs of areas damaged by the fighting in Tripoli.
Hariri said the Tripoli security plan was designed “to end fighting and armed chaos in the city and restore security, calm and stability.”
“We must praise the success of the measures taken by the government to implement the security plan in Tripoli, with the vigorous backing of the Lebanese Army and the security forces,” Hariri said in a statement released by his office.
“This demonstrates that the state is capable of extending its authority and sovereignty and taking control of the situation in all Lebanese areas when it decides to do so and when a national decision is made in this regard,” he added.
Hariri said he was following with “avid interest” the plan’s implementation, which began Tuesday in an attempt to end the deadly clashes between supporters and opponents of Syrian President Bashar Assad in Lebanon’s second-largest city.
“I look forward to the day when Tripoli is fully recovered so that it can again be a city of coexistence and national will,” Hariri said.
“The scenes of reconciliation between Tripoli’s residents, particularly those who lived along the so-called front lines ... warmed everyone’s hearts because it represented their true beliefs and their rejection of violence and civil war and their desire to coexist.”
Since 2008, Tripoli has been plagued with 20 rounds of fighting between Alawite supporters of Assad in the Jabal Mohsen neighborhood and residents of the Sunni majority Bab al-Tabbaneh district, which backs the Syrian opposition. The fighting has killed more than 100 people since the uprising against the Assad regime began in March 2011.
The Lebanese Army carried out more raids Thursday in search of suspects wanted by authorities, as many of the militia leaders blamed for the violence fled the city in anticipation of the moves.
Since the security plan took hold Tuesday, the military has so 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.
The Army, backed by armored vehicles, raided a concrete factory in the Abi Samra neighborhood Thursday in search of militant preachers Sheikh Omar Bakri Fustoq and Sheikh Husam al-Sabbagh, but they did not find either.
The Army move came after the Internal Security Forces’ Information Branch apprehended Sheikh Msheer Khodr, a close associate of Fustoq, in the northern region of Akkar, the National News Agency reported.
Meanwhile, a Syrian man was killed and two others were wounded after they allegedly failed to stop at a military checkpoint near the border with Syria, security sources said.
Lebanese soldiers manning a checkpoint in the rugged and remote area of Wadi Hmayyed on the outskirts of the northeastern town of Arsal ordered the men on a motorcycle to stop, but they did not, prompting the military to open fire, the sources told The Daily Star.
The man killed was identified as Ziad al-Issa. Those wounded were Ayad al-Samra and Ibrahim Mohammad Hsayyan. They were taken to a hospital in Ras Baalbek.
They are suspected of belonging to Nusra Front, a radical group that has claimed responsibility for several suicide car bombings against predominantly Shiite areas associated with Hezbollah, a security source said.
The Lebanese Army said in a statement that soldiers shot at the men when they “tried to escape and did not stop at the military checkpoint ... despite repeated warnings.”
The Army has boosted security along the porous border with Syria, erecting checkpoints and dispatching patrols to prevent the infiltration of rebels and curb the rising number of car bombs. Wadi Hmayyed is among several illegal border crossings used by rebels to smuggle arms and gunmen into Lebanon.
In Tripoli, the head of the Alawite Islamic Council urged reconciliation between leaders 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 told a news conference in Tripoli.