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Lebanese army vows to impose order

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Latest update : 2008-05-12

After five days of violence, the army warned that it would use force to impose order from Tuesday. While Beirut remained calm on Monday, clashes spread to the north and the Druze-inhabited hills. J.-M. Quemener reports from the Chouf mountains.

Lebanon's army said on Monday it would use force if necessary to impose law and order in the country from Tuesday.
 
"Army units will halt violations... in accordance with the law, even if that leads to the use of force," a military statement said, adding that the army would start implementing the order from 6 a.m. (0300 GMT) on Tuesday. 
 

After Beirut, fighting erupts in Tripoli

 

Fighting broke out in the northern Lebanese city of Tripoli as a tense calm gripped Beirut Monday, following days of deadly sectarian violence between Hezbollah followers and supporters of the pro-Western government.

 

Fresh clashes broke out in the Jabal Mohsen and Bab al-Tabbaneh neighborhoods in Tripoli Monday, according to Lebanese media reports. At least one person was killed and four others wounded in the fighting, according to the AFP news service. 

 

The renewed violence in Tripoli came as a precarious calm prevailed elsewhere in Lebanon – notably in Beirut and the surrounding Chouf mountains.

 

Reporting from the Chouf region southeast of Beirut, FRANCE 24’s Lucie Fielder said the region around Aley - a strategic town overlooking the capital - appeared calm Monday following heavy fighting over the weekend in which at least 36 people were killed, according to Lebanese security sources.

 

The Aley region is dominated by members of the Druze community as well as Maronite Christians. But the area – which is located along the Beirut-Damascus highway overlooking the Lebanese capital - also has villages dominated by Shiites, many of them loyal to Hezbollah.

 

The fighting appeared to have subsided following a truce call by Druze leader Walid Jumblatt Sunday after a weekend of bloody fighting between pro-government supporters allied to Jumblatt and followers of a rival Druze leader, Talal Erslan, who is allied to the Shiite Hezbollah group.


Clashes in the areas outside Beirut followed days of pitched street fights in the capital, which saw Hezbollah seizing control of large swathes of west Beirut before pulling back from several areas to let the Lebanese Army take control over the weekend.

 

But some barricades put up by Hezbollah fighters and their allies remained and the road to Beirut international airport was shut for the sixth consecutive day.

 

A total of 47 people have been killed in five days of violence, reported the AFP news service Monday, quoting an unnamed Lebanese security official.

 

‘A battle for the Middle East

 

The recent outbreak of violence in the tiny Middle Eastern country bordering Israel and Syria was eerily reminiscent of the brutal 1975-1990 civil war, when sectarian violence saw pitched battles between Lebanon’s myriad communities, many of them allied with regional powers.

 

But speaking to FRANCE 24 Monday, Lebanese Telecommunications Minister Marwan Hamadeh said it was “not yet an all-out civil war.”

 

But he echoed the government’s call for help from other Arab nations, warning that, “the battle here is not just a battle for Lebanon, it’s a battle for the Middle East.” 

 

Arab League delegation heads to Beirut

 

As with the 1975-1990 civil war, Lebanon’s recent round of violence has implications across the Middle East region. With Hezbollah primarily backed by Iran and Syria, experts say the recent round of violence is being viewed as a disaster by pro-Western Arab countries such as Egypt and Saudi Arabia.

 

A delegation of Arab foreign ministers is expected in Beirut to help mediate a solution to the current crisis. The announcement followed an emergency meeting of Arab foreign ministers in the Egyptian capital of Cairo over the weekend.

 

The delegation is headed by Qatar and includes Algeria, Djibouti, Jordan, Morocco, the United Arab Emirates and Yemen. But it does not include Sunni Arab heavyweights Saudi Arabia and Egypt. Neither does it include Syria, which heavily backs Hezbollah.

 

Date created : 2008-05-12

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