Cautious calm in Lebanon's Tripoli after army deployment
Beirut, May 15 (Xinhua-ANI): Lebanon's northern port city of Tripoli was in an "uneasy calm" Tuesday morning as the army forces were deployed in the city after days of spiraling violence, the National News Agency reported.
The NNA said earlier that the Lebanese army forces did not enter the clashing neighborhoods of Jabal Mohsen and Babal- Tebbaneh, but had begun to be deployed in the Syria Street, which separates the two rival neighborhoods, and had combed the city's streets to remove any unexploded ordnance.
A cautious calm prevailed in Tripoli, but was breached by sporadic gunshots at dawn, NNA said.
The army issued a statement later, confirming the troops' deployment in the two neighborhoods and the Syrian Street.
"The army is conducting patrols and setting checkpoints in the city to prevent any security breach and to enable citizens to resume their normal lives," the statement said.
According to the statement, the Internal Security Forces also reinforced its presence in Tripoli.
"The military command stressed that maintaining security is a national need and chaos does not serve anyone's interest," the army said.
It noted that the army is present to preserve stability in the city but not to wage a confrontation with the residents. The army urged the residents to support it, confirming its decision to demilitarize the city.
Army Commander Gen. Jean Qahwaji told al-Akhbar newspaper Tuesday that the situation in the city will be resolved and "will go back to normal gradually."
The commander said the army "entered the area of clashes as soon as they started, but it went under fire, and the most important issue was to protect our troops."
"When we made sure that everyone is demanding the army to intervene and that the army and troops will be safe from any sporadic gunshots, we decided to heavily deploy in the areas of tension," Qahwaji told the daily.
Sources close to Lebanese Prime Minister Najib Mikati stressed that the army was granted a "political and an official cover."
Clashes erupted Saturday between the Sunni neighborhood of Bab al-Tabbaneh and the Alawite neighborhood of Jabal Mohsen, after an Islamist, Shadi al-Mawlawi, was arrested by the authority for allegedly contacting a terrorist organization.
Media reports said the suspect is an avid supporter of the Syrian opposition against President Bashar al-Assad's regime. Al- Mawlawi's supporters said he was targeted because of his help for Syrian refugees fleeing to Lebanon.
However, Lebanese President Michel Suleiman told Al Liwaa newspaper Tuesday that "the clashes in Tripoli have nothing to do with the Syrian crisis."
The NNA reported Monday that eight people have been killed and nearly 50 others wounded in the clashes. (Xinhua-ANI)
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