TRIPOLI, Lebanon: The Lebanese Army deployed heavily in several parts of Tripoli Friday, preventing demonstrators from marching in protest against security measures as the military prosecutor issued additional warrants.
Troops in Armored Personnel Carriers fanned out across the city and soldiers kept an eye over rooftops, blocking major roads leading to Nour Square ahead of a scheduled march by protesters from the mainly Sunni Bab al-Tabbaneh neighborhood.
The Army set up checkpoints, frisking motorists and searching for illegal weapons.
The measures prevented the demonstrators from reaching the city, forcing the organizers to call off the march, which was planned to start following Friday prayers.
In addition to the military measures, political figures in Tripoli were in communication with the organizers in an attempt to dissuade them from going through with the protest, which was mainly against the arrest warrants against Tripoli residents.
Local figures feared clashes between soldiers and protesters.
Military Prosecutor Judge Saqr Saqr had issued some 200 arrest warrants for wanted suspects in Tripoli and other parts of the country as part of the security plan in Lebanon’s second largest city, which has been plagued by Syria-linked clashes.
Locals in Bab al-Tabbaneh have protested a spate of arrests made by the Army during the two-week crackdown.
Military Investigative Judge Nabil Wehbe charged another 14 individuals from Bab al-Tabbaneh Friday in connection with opening fire, murder and attempted murder.
Twelve of the suspects remain at large, a judicial source told The Daily Star.
The source said among those charged were three well-known field commanders – Ziad Alloukeh, Saadeddine al-Masri and Farouk al-Masri.
The security plan for Tripoli has been adopted by the Cabinet following at least 20 rounds of gunbattles linked to the crisis in Syria.
A 22-year-old Lebanese Army lieutenant and a Sergeant were killed and a soldier wounded when gunmen ambushed their patrol late Tuesday in the Akkar region of Qammoua.
The attack came hours after a Salafist preacher warned of major fallout in response to the Lebanese Army’s measures in Tripoli.