BEIRUT: Prime Minister Tammam Salam justified the security crackdown in Tripoli Sunday, stressing that security forces operate in accordance with the law and do not discriminate between citizens.
“We refuse any imbalance in the implementation of the security plan and the instructions given to security apparatus stress respect for the state in all areas and upholding the rule of law above all, without discrimination or exclusion,” said Salam to a delegation of religious figures from the northern city.
With respect to the arrest of militiaman Hussam al-Sabbagh, Salam stressed that security forces do not discriminate between Lebanese citizens, referring to allegations from local community members that security forces are targeting the Sunni’s of Tripoli.
Salam said the state does not target one group at the expense of another and security forces operate in line with the law.
“If a person is detained and then proved innocent he will surely be released” said Salam, emphasizing that “the goal is not retribution, but a movement in the direction of law and security in order to stabilize security in Tripoli.”
Salam pointed out that mistakes or shortcomings in the practices of security forces could be resolved wisely.
The Prime Minister stressed on the need to combine efforts to restrain reactions to the recent arrests in Tripoli.
"I count on your wisdom and your foresight and invite you to help in controlling the exaggerated reactions that may bear more harm than benefit,” said Salam, addressing the delegation.
With respect to Sheikh Hussein Atwi, who was arrested after firing a rocket from the town of al-Marri toward occupied Palestine, Salam vowed to issue instructions calling for better treatment and care for his case.
Tensions ran high in Lebanon’s second largest city Sunday after a terror suspect was killed and Hussam al-Sabbagh was arrested overnight during raids carried out by Lebanese authorities, security sources told The Daily Star.
The Army arrested Sabbagh at the Al-Manar checkpoint in Tripoli along with Mohammad Ali Ismail Ismail and transferred the pair to the concerned judiciary for interrogation.
Supporters of militiaman Hussam al-Sabbagh – who is believed to have orchestrated clashes linked to the Syria crisis - took to the streets and blocked roads in Tripoli as the Lebanese Army worked on clearing the streets and restoring calm, the sources said.
The Army blocked the road near the Abu Ali roundabout over fears of sniper fire from Bab al-Tabbaneh, where around 150 men brandished their weapons again and deployed heavily inside the impoverished neighborhood that has long served as Sabbagh’s main quarters, the sources added.
Sabbagh is considered a militant commander of Salafists in Tripoli and his arrest is likely to spark a wave of anger within Islamist circles