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Lebanon army expands operation in restive Tripoli

(AFP)
Filed on April 2, 2014

Lebanese troops on Wednesday moved into a restive Sunni area in northern Tripoli, in the second stage of a plan aimed at quelling deadly Syria-linked violence, a security source said.

Residents welcomed the deployment, saying they hoped it would help bring normality to the city.

The military operation in Bab al-Tebbaneh comes a day after the army entered the Alawite district of Jabal Mohsen.

It follows orders from ministers last week for security forces to move into the city, where at least 30 people were killed in two weeks of fighting in March.

Fighters in the two neighbourhoods have clashed frequently in recent months, as decades-old sectarian tensions have been exacerbated by the war in neighbouring Syria.

Hundreds of people have been killed in Lebanese violence — including bomb attacks and battles — since the war in Syria broke out three years ago.

“The Lebanese army completed its deployment into the flashpoint areas (of Tripoli) and army units went into Bab al-Tebbaneh this morning,” said the security source, who spoke to AFP on condition of anonymity.

“The military removed the barricades from the streets and the rooftops, and opened up the road linking Bab al-Tebbaneh to Jabal Mohsen,” he added.

“They conducted raids and searched for weapons and wanted people. The troops were backed by armed vehicles, tanks and bulldozers,” said the source, though he gave no details on whether anyone was arrested.

Damascus dominated Lebanon for nearly 30 years until 2005, and the war in Syria has divided the Lebanese squarely into two camps — one supporting President Bashar al-Assad, the other backing the revolt.


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