HERMEL/TRIPOLI, Lebanon: Violence linked to the war in Syria claimed the life of a man in the Bekaa Valley Thursday, as sniping and clashes returned to the northern city of Tripoli.
A group calling itself “Muslims Without Borders” blocked the road leading to the Masnaa border crossing with burning tires, in support of the residents of the town of Arsal, seen as a stronghold of support for the Syrian opposition. The National News Agency said Mohammad Abu Abbas died of injuries sustained during the protest.
Security sources told The Daily Star that Abu Abbas was killed when Army troops clashed with the protesters.
Residents of the central Bekaa Valley town of Saadnayel also blocked roads surrounding their village to support Arsal, while media reports said that a clash between Army troops and protesters who blocked the Saadnayel-Taalbaya road resulted in the wounding of three people.
In solidarity with Arsal, similar road closure protests took place in the beirut neighborhoods of Corniche al-Mazraa and Cite Sportive. Army personnel later reopened the roads.
In Baalbek, Lebanese Army units were deployed to quell clashes between residents from Arsal and the village of Labweh.
Unidentified gunmen established a checkpoint and inspected vehicles and the documents of drivers entering Labweh, on the road leading to Arsal, but withdrew quickly when the Army entered the area.
In Arsal, officials handed over Saleh Abdullah Fliti to Army intelligence. Fliti is suspected of involvement in the killing Sunday of three Shiite men and a Turkish national in an ambush in Wadi Rafeq, located near Arsal and Labweh.
Labweh Mayor Ramez Amhaz said residents were “waiting for the outcome of investigations, especially after a suspect was handed over [to the Army] by the residents of Arsal.”
“We are against any armed presence or security incidents that target people who pass by our village from Arsal,” he added.
Earlier in the day, gunmen prevented an ambulance transporting a wounded man from Syria from passing through Labweh on its way to Baalbek from Arsal, forcing it to turn back.The Central News Agency said the gunmen fired at the car, wounding the driver.“This makes us think there is a certain group of people who are working to widen the rift between the two villages,” Fliti said, referring to the incident.
Meanwhile, in the Baalbek village of Sahlat al-Maa, the Jaafar clan held a ceremony to mark three days since the killing of Mohammad Jaafar and Hussein Jaafar in the Wadi Rafeq ambush. The ceremony was attended by a representative of caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati, Brig. Gen. Mohammad Kheir. Kheir also visited Arsal to extend his condolences to the family of Ahmad Hujeiri, who was killed on the outskirts of Hermel June 12.
In Tripoli, three people were wounded as the Army clashed with gunmen from a family in the city, as a brief spell of sniping resumed between the rival neighborhoods of Bab al-Tabbaneh and Jabal Mohsen.
A clash in Tripoli between the Army and members of the Hassoun clan saw three people wounded, a resident said. The fighting took place in the Abi Samra neighborhood, reportedly over the arrest of Ziad Hassoun earlier that day. Hassoun was detained for allegedly throwing a hand grenade at a police station a week earlier.
Later in the day, Bab al-Tabbaneh residents reinstalled sandbag barricades, which the Army had removed, at the entrance of the neighborhood as residents of Jabal Mohsen did the same.
This article was amended on Friday, June 21 2013
This article was corrected on Friday, June 21, 2013. The headline originally stated that one man was killed in Tripoli and that three were wounded in clashes in the Bekaa. In fact, one man was killed in the Bekaa and three people were wounded in clashes in Tripoli. We regret the error.