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Lebanon News

Tripoli security plan sparks unrest, rockets strike Bekaa towns

File - A Lebanese Army helicopter flies over buildings as soldiers are deployed as part of a security plan to restore stability in Tripoli, north Lebanon, April 2, 2014. (REUTERS/Omar Ibrahim)

TRIPOLI/SIDON, Lebanon: The Lebanese Army raided the home of a militia commander in north Lebanon Wednesday, as some residents of Tripoli held further protests against a security plan in the city enacted last month.

An Army unit stormed the house of Tripoli’s Saad Masri in Nabi Yushaa near the northern town of Minnieh following reports that he was there with Ziad Allouki and Abu Assad, both also militia commanders active in the previously restive northern city, and that five wanted individuals were inside the house. However, it turned out that none of them were present.

The Army also raided houses in the city’s Bab al-Ramel neighborhood.

As news of the first raid spread, residents of Tripoli’s Haret al-Baranieh neighborhood – where Allouki hails from – blocked the roads with burning tires while others in Minnieh tried to block the road in Nabi Yushaa.

The Army intervened and reopened the road in Haret al-Baranieh after about an hour.

Many Tripoli residents have been protesting the Army’s security crackdown, accusing it of targeting Sunnis.

Launched earlier this month, the campaign aims to end rounds of violence between the mainly Alawite neighborhood of Jabal Mohsen, whose residents support Syrian President Bashar Assad, and the mostly Sunni district of Bab al-Tabbaneh, where people sympathize with the Syrian opposition.

More than 200 arrest warrants have been issued for fighters from both neighborhoods.

Separately, a Palestinian Islamist belonging to an Al-Qaeda-affiliated group survived an assassination attempt Wednesday in the southern Palestinian refugee camp of Ain al-Hilweh.

Security sources told The Daily Star that Mohammad Abdullah Jumaa traded gunfire with two attackers who attacked him as he left Al-Nour Mosque after attending the dawn prayer.

The sources said Jumaa, a member of the Abdullah Azzam Brigades, is wanted by Lebanese authorities on multiple charges.

The Brigades have claimed responsibility for a number of deadly suicide attacks in Lebanon.

The Army has arrested several suspects belonging to the group, including Lebanese Jamal Daftardar and Palestinian Naim Abbas, who are accused of involvement in a wave of bombings that have targeted areas associated with Hezbollah in previous months.

Meanwhile, a security official in Sidon told vendors protesting a decision to ban carts in the city’s main markets and along the seaside courniche that the move was motivated by security considerations.

The official said the proliferation of carts could help potential perpetrators stage attacks against U.N. Interim Force in Lebanon patrols that go through Sidon as they commute to and from their area of operation in the south.

In another development, rockets from Syria hit two Bekaa Valley villages early Wednesday shortly after a Syrian government warplane raided the outskirts of a border town known for its support for opposition fighters.

An Army statement said a Syrian jet fired three rockets into the barren terrain surrounding Arsal shortly before midnight.

Less than 20 minutes later, three rockets fired from the eastern mountain range targeted the largely Shiite Bekaa Valley towns of Labweh and Nabi Othman, the statement added.

No casualties were reported in the attacks, the Army said.

Security sources earlier told The Daily Star that one of the rockets fell on a public park in Labweh while the second crashed near a local resident’s house in nearby Nabi Othman, causing material damage.

At midday, another rocket fired from Syrian territory fell between the Bekaa Valley village of Taibeh and Brital, a largely Shiite town.

There were no immediate reports of casualties.

The militant group Liwaa Ahrar al-Sunna-Baalbek, which has claimed previous similar attacks, tweeted: “As part of a series of imminent victories, we shelled Brital and we will continue to do so until traces of impurity are removed.”

Islamist rebel groups fighting in Syria have linked similar attacked in the past to Hezbollah’s role in the Syrian crisis supporting Assad.

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on April 24, 2014, on page 3.

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Summary

The Lebanese Army raided the home of a militia commander in north Lebanon Wednesday, as some residents of Tripoli held further protests against a security plan in the city enacted last month.

An Army unit stormed the house of Tripoli's Saad Masri in Nabi Yushaa near the northern town of Minnieh following reports that he was there with Ziad Allouki and Abu Assad, both also militia commanders active in the previously restive northern city, and that five wanted individuals were inside the house.

The Army also raided houses in the city's Bab al-Ramel neighborhood.

Less than 20 minutes later, three rockets fired from the eastern mountain range targeted the largely Shiite Bekaa Valley towns of Labweh and Nabi Othman, the statement added.

No casualties were reported in the attacks, the Army said.


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