Military ousts jihadists from the ancient town of Tripoli
Tripoli/Aleteia (aleteia.org/ar) — The Lebanese Army launched a fierce attack against Sunni militants in Tripoli, the largest city in northern Lebanon. They were able to force the Jihadists to withdraw from the old town and the neighborhoods near Bab al-Tabannah.
The fighting resumed on Friday, Oct. 22, and continued during the weekend. At least five soldiers and two civilians were killed during the violence.
It is believed that the extremists are affiliated with the Islamic State group and al-Qaeda. They threatened to kill some soldiers they had captured if the Army did not stop its operations.
In the past few hours, Jabhat an-Nusrah, an al-Qaeda affiliate, warned the “Lebanese Army to avoid any military operations targeting Sunnis in Tripoli,” and demanded that they “accept a peaceful resolution, otherwise in a few hours we will be forced to put an end to the issue of these hostages because they are prisoners of war.”
Tripoli has already witnessed the spread of violence in the past; however, this is the first time since the beginning of the war in Syria that militants have gained control of the old city and its market; both of which are candidates to become UNESCO world heritage sites.
The Army quickly responded, which forced the militias to retreat to the outskirts of Bab al-Tabbanah, where at least 100,000 people live.
The Army resumed their attack today, but it appeared that the militias had abandoned their positions because only sporadic gunfire could be heard.
Future Television in Lebanon also mentioned that there were violent clashes between the Army and Jabhat an-Nusrah and ISIS groups in the Wadi Rayan area in the Arsal region where militants from the two groups clashed with the Army previously in August.
On Sunday, The Army raided an apartment in the Ra’s al-Sarraj Arsal area and arrested five Syrians suspected of having ties with terrorist groups.
The Maronite Patriarch Bechara al-Rahi spoke on Sunday about the events in the country and expressed his support for the Army and criticized the attack in Tripoli.
The cardinal added during an official visit to Sydney, Australia, that “we pray that the military establishment and security forces will be successful in protecting the security and stability of Lebanon. We also pray in behalf of peace in Syria and Iraq and the other countries in the Middle East.” He renewed his plea to put an end to the deadlock in the presidential elections.
Recently, the Lebanese government announced that it would not be able to accept any more refugees from neighboring Syria because the country had already become saturated.
Lebanon took in 1.2 million Syrians fleeing from the war, in addition to the terrorist groups that are linked with al-Qaeda and ISIS—all of this in a country that only contains four million people.
This article appeared on October 28 in Aleteia’s Arabic edition. Translated by Donald Puhlman.