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THURSDAY, 24 APR 2014
01:31 PM Beirut time
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Charbel warns Lebanon security situation dire
File photo of Interior Minister Marwan Charbel during a press conference in Beirut. (The Daily Star/Hasan Shaaban)
File photo of Interior Minister Marwan Charbel during a press conference in Beirut. (The Daily Star/Hasan Shaaban)
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BEIRUT: Parliament needs to act to help put an end to the growingly deteriorating security situation in Lebanon, Interior Minister Marwan Charbel said Friday.

“We are going through a really difficult security situation across Lebanon and the issue is not limited to any particular region and it takes on sectarian, political and regional dimensions,” he told a news conference at his ministry in Beirut.

“I call on Parliament to meet because the security situation in the country is difficult and also in order to put a defense document [plan] to spare Lebanon division,” he said.

His comments came following an emergency sub-security council meeting in Sidon that convened to address tensions in the southern coastal city.

The tense atmosphere came after Salafist Sheikh Ahmad Assir threatened he would visit an area near the Bilal Bin Rabah Mosque in Abra that he claims is being used by Hezbollah to monitor his movements.

Assir appeared before some 400 worshipers at the Abra mosque, east of Sidon, Friday where he launched a scathing attack on Hezbollah and Iran, the group’s main backer.

In reference to Assir’s demand that Hezbollah members evacuate apartments near his mosque, Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah said earlier this week that the members of his group had been living there before construction began at the mosque.

There was a heavy presence of riot police and Lebanese soldiers around the mosque to prevent tensions. Security forces cordoned off the area in the mosque’s vicinity, limiting Assir’s freedom of movement to a 50-square-meter section around the place of worship in Abra.

During his Friday sermon, Assir also accused Hezbollah of distracting the Lebanese Army from its main duty of protecting Lebanon against Israeli aggression “to face up with us.”

But Assir stressed that Hezbollah could not drag his supporters into a fight with the military.

"The Lebanese Army is a part of us. Nasrallah cannot stand between us," Assir said, adding that the "battle is one between us and the party of arms [Hezbollah]."

"We will not give up until we topple [Hezbollah’s] weapons,” Assir said, vowing to keep up with his protest until Hezbollah members vacated the apartments near his mosque.

During his news conference, Charbel stressed that security forces would “deal appropriately” with any armed presence whether by Assir’s supporters or anyone else.

But Charbel would not say how authorities planned to handle such situations.

The sub-security council that met at Sidon’s Serail agreed to prevent any armed presence in the southern city and warned Assir to keep his sit-ins limited to the Bilal Bin Rabah mosque.

It also authorized police and the Army to deal firmly with any attempt to violate such measures.

 
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