BEIRUT: Former Prime Minister Saad Hariri warned Sunday against any attempt to goad the southern city of Sidon against the Lebanese Army.
“Hariri warned against any attempt to lure the city of Sidon into a confrontation with the state and the Lebanese Army, stressing the need for all steps to be taken to protect the city and its residents and end the spreading strife threatening Lebanon.”
Several soldiers and gunmen loyal to an anti-Hezbollah sheikh were killed Sunday in clashes in Abra, east of Sidon, security sources said, in an act the Army warned was reminiscent of events that preceded Lebanon’s Civil War.
Hariri said there was no excuse to breaking the law or attacking the Lebanese Army in his home city.
“The major sin, of which Hezbollah is responsible through provoking the citizens in the capital of the south and through spreading security outposts in the neighborhoods, should not be a pretext to break the law or to use weapons against the posts of the Lebanese Army or any other legitimate security forces,” he said.
“I call on all citizens not to be dragged into any negative reactions that would provide cover for the acts committed by Hezbollah, and give those harmed by the extension of state authority the chance to achieve their political and security goals,” the statement added.
Hariri also said he relied on the wisdom of the Lebanese Army command to take measures to protect the city and prevent it from “falling in to the traps of the instigators and the calls launched by those who hide behind Hezbollah’s weapons awaiting opportunities - in the name of the defense of these arms - to undermine the prestige of the State and of all forces calling for an end to the policies of hegemony.”
Hariri expressed his deepest condolences to the families of the victims and said the soldiers killed in the fighting were “martyrs of the entire nation.”