Syrian Crisis Spreads to Lebanon
By LUIS MIRANDA | THE REAL AGENDA | DECEMBER 10, 2012
Lebanon has experienced this week its worst outbreak of violence so far this year. At least 15 people have died and over a hundred injured in six days of fighting between loyalists and opponents of the Assad regime in Tripoli, the second largest city.
The contagion of the crisis in the neighboring country seems unstoppable, especially in the north, where both the Army and the Executive have been unable to halt spiraling sectarian tension that goes beyond the usual boundaries between the neighborhoods of Bab el Tabaneh (Sunni) and Jabal Mohsen (Alawi, the sect of Assad). Several bombs and mortars fired overnight kept the neighbors awake in areas near Zaharia, Mena and Abi Samra, close to the city center.
The last battle between the two neighborhoods, which has been going on for decades, began early Tuesday after images the mutilated bodies of several Lebanese fighters killed in Syria were disseminated. At least a dozen men, mostly Salafists, died last weekend in an ambush from the Syrian Army in Tal Kabaj.
Three of the bodies arrived this morning to Lebanon through the Arida border crossing in the northern part of the country. The repatriation has lit the fire since early in the morning. At least one of the bodies brought to one of the families has been badly destroyed, which has caused an outcry from relatives at the lack of sensitivity on the part of the Syrian and Lebanese authorities.
On Friday, the continuing conflict alerted authorities. After an emergency meeting, the pro-Syrian government headed by Najib Mikati Sunni got a weak truce that was soon broken by the sound of several explosions in both neighborhoods. Not even the intervention of the Army have stopped the outbreaks of violence.
“I left here,” said Mohammad Nablisi, “people are taking their things and getting out.” In the background, he points to the hill where he says stands Jabal Mohsen. The bullets of shots fired by snipers arrive all the way to his home.
The last six days set off all the alarms and highlighted the inability of the army to impose order while increasing fears abound that the situation goes out of control in an area taken over by the Free Syrian Army. The conflict in the neighboring country, has dragged on for 20 months, and has intensified into an open war that has claimed nearly fifty lives so far this year, while the radical elements are strong in the area.
“When I came here,” said a young refugee from Homs, “I went to Bab el Tabaneh to ask for a weapon to fight against followers of Assad. The Bab el Tabaneh forces are being reorganized around elements inspired by Al Qaeda jihadists and refugees in the neighborhood after the dismantling in 2007 of a croup called Fatah al Islam.
The opposition has used the coup to reload their fight against the inactivity of the pro-Syrian Executive.
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