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Lebanon News

Hezbollah security official in Sidon for more talks

File - Senior Hezbollah security official Wafiq Safa, center, checks the site of an explosion in Beirut, Wednesday, Feb. 19, 2014. (The Daily Star/Mohammad Azakir)

SIDON, Lebanon: Hezbollah’s top security official Wafiq Safa visited Sidon Tuesday, making it his second trip to the southern city in 10 days. Safa met Sheikh Maher Hammoud, a pro-Hezbollah Sunni preacher who leads prayers in a mosque in the city.

A statement by Hammoud said the meeting tackled the security situation in Lebanon and the potential local consequences of the fall of Syrian city Yabroud at the hands of the Syrian army and Hezbollah fighters.

The statement said Hammoud and Safa also discussed security in Sidon, which they agreed was essential for the stability of Lebanon and the resistance.

Earlier this month, Safa held several meetings with politicians and security officials in Sidon, including Samir Shehadeh, the head of the Internal Security Forces’ Information Branch in the south.

Sources told The Daily Star that Safa and Shehadeh agreed to ease tensions in the south by exempting the party from vehicle checks and reining in the Resistance Brigades, a militia affiliated with Hezbollah.

Safa requested from Shehadeh that police officers avoid pursuing vehicles with black-tinted windows since they usually carry security officials, MPs and individuals from Hezbollah and searching them could lead to the disclosure of their identities.

Safa also promised to rein in the activities of four members of the Resistance Brigades who were involved in recent disputes with ISF officers stationed in the Sidon neighborhood of Villat.

Resistance Brigades member repeatedly clashed with supporters of the radical preacher Ahmad al-Assir in the run-up to his showdown with the Lebanese Army last summer.

The sources also said that Hezbollah disclosed intelligence related to possible security threats to officials in Sidon.

Ties between Hezbollah and the ISF, which is close to the Future Movement, have improved recently.

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on March 19, 2014, on page 3.

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