TRIPOLI: A meeting chaired by the Mufti of Tripoli Sheikh Malek Shaar at Dar al-Fatwa demanded Friday the disarmament of the northern city and putting an end to long-simmering tension between the two rival neighborhoods of Bab al-Tabbaneh and Jabal Mohsen.
Friday’s was the latest in a series of meetings held in Tripoli in an attempt to restore law and order to a city that has been ravaged by on-and-off fighting between rival gunmen in the mainly Sunni Bab al-Tabbaneh neighborhood and the Alawite Jabal Mohsen district.
In addition to senior Army and police officers, including the Internal Security Forces commander of the northern area, Maj. Gen. Mahmoud Annan, the meeting was attended by the president of the Bar Association and the heads of the doctors’ and dentists’ associations in Tripoli.
The participants followed up on issues that had been reviewed in previous meetings which focused on establishing security and stability in Tripoli, confronting any attempt to destabilize the city, and the means of implementing vital projects. They also urged lawmakers and politicians to stop providing cover to troublemakers and those who try to stir up strife in the city.
Reading a statement after the meeting, Shaar said: “The participants supported the principle of disarming the city out of concern for its security and stability. Some gunmen belonging to this or that party must not be allowed to set off the security situation and terrorize safe residents without being deterred by law or authority.”
“The participants appealed to security forces to chase and apprehend those who open fire because this ongoing harm and conspiracy against the country and people must not be allowed to continue without punishment or accountability,” he added.
Similar calls for Tripoli’s disarmament have been made in the past by the city’s Future MPs following deadly clashes between gunmen in Jabal Mohsen and Bab al-Tabbaneh.
The participants also saluted President Michel Sleiman and Army commander General Jean Kahwagi on the occasion of Army Day which fell on Aug. 1. “The participants see on this occasion [Army Day] an opportunity to achieve the hopes of Tripoli’s residents for consolidating security and stability in the known tension zone after the city had suffered the repercussions of this bleeding wound in Bab al-Tabbaneh and Jabal Mohsen,” Shaar said.
Jabal Mohsen and Bab al-Tabbaneh have witnessed recurring clashes in the past months as the two neighborhoods are divided in their support for the 17-month uprising in Syria. Alawite residents in Jabal Mohsen support Syrian President Bashar Assad, while Sunnis in Bab al-Tabbaneh strongly back the anti-Assad uprising.
Meanwhile, a personal dispute between two men in Bab al-Tabbaneh developed into a fistfight and later into shooting when one man opened fire on the other wounding him, the state-run National News Agency reported. It said that the wounded man, identified only with his initials as E.A.M, was taken to hospital, while the gunman escaped.