BEIRUT: Prime Minister Najib Mikati made a series of contacts Saturday to discuss the security situation in the northern city of Tripoli and agreed with the head of the Lebanese Army to work toward limiting breaches along the shared border with Syria.
According to his office, Mikati contacted Future Movement MPs Samir Jisr and Mohammad Kabbara and spoke about the security situation in Tripoli, Lebanon’s second largest city where intermitted fighting between supporters and opponents of Syrian President Bashar Assad has led to dozens of deaths.
Separately, Finance Minister Mohammad Safadi, who hails from the port city, voiced concern Saturday over reports of an increased armed presence on the streets of Tripoli.
He said residents in Tripoli were concerned following media reports of an increase of illegal arms in the city as well as the growing number of gunmen and plots to ignite strife there.
The minister's remarks came during a meeting with visitors in the northern city.
"The majority of Tripoli residents want the [Lebanese] Army and security forces to exercise their control of the city and all of Lebanon," Safadi said.
Since the uprising in Syria began two years, Tripoli has witnessed recurrent fighting between supporters of Assad in the predominantly Alawite Jabal Mohsen neighborhood and his opponents in the adjacent, mainly Sunni neighborhood of Bab al-Tabbaneh.
Rifaat Eid, the head of the Arab Democratic Party, said Wednesday that an increasing number of attacks were being directed at members of his Alawite sect and warned that his group would retaliate fiercely if their Jabal Mohsen stronghold was targeted.
Mikati Saturday also contacted Lebanese Army commander Gen. Jean Kahwagi to discuss the measures taken by the military in various areas of the country, particularly in Tripoli, and on the border with Syria to prevent the smuggling of gunmen and arms.
The two agreed on further measures to resolve the breaches which Syria recently said would not hesitate to respond to.
The prime minster reiterated his call for "all parties in Lebanon to commit to the policy of disassociation and to safeguard Lebanon from any repercussions."
“The Lebanese government is being extremely careful with regard to the situation on the Syria-Lebanon border and orders have been given to the Lebanese Army to resolve breaches using appropriate means,” his office quoted him as saying.