Lebanese soldiers battle Sunni extremists
By McClatchy Newspapers
Published: Sunday, June 23, 2013, 8:18 p.m.
SIDON, Lebanon — At least six Lebanese soldiers were killed on Sunday in a fierce clash with followers of a radical Sunni Muslim cleric in the southern city of Sidon as Lebanon's security continues to deteriorate because of sectarian tensions over Hezbollah's involvement in neighboring Syria's civil war.
The battle between the Lebanese Armed Forces and followers of Sheikh Ahmad al-Assir apparently was sparked by an attempt to arrest of one of the cleric's bodyguards. The fighting eventually drew the involvement of Hezbollah fighters, based on a nearby mountainside, who used mortars and recoilless rifles to support the attack by Lebanese commandos.
An unknown number of gunmen and civilians were killed and wounded. Local media reports indicate that Assir's brother might have been a casualty. As night fell, the Lebanese force reported that at least 20 of its soldiers had been wounded and that it was trying to put an end both to the fighting and Assir's hold over the Abra neighborhood of Sidon. Supporters of Assir's anti-Hezbollah and anti-Syrian regime stances took to the streets throughout Lebanon to block traffic and protest.
The civil war in neighboring Syria — and Hezbollah's strong military and political support for the embattled regime of President Bashar Assad — have put much of Lebanon in political turmoil. Many Lebanese support the predominately Sunni Muslim rebels and oppose Shiite Hezbollah's involvement. But with Lebanon's powerful and numerous Shiite Muslim community supporting Hezbollah, which is widely considered the most effective military force in Lebanon, a political stalemate over involvement has turned more violent as both sides refuse to yield.
Fighting began after followers of Assir, who has called for a jihad against Hezbollah and its allies in neighboring Syria, claimed that the Lebanese army attempted to arrest members of the group without provocation. The neighborhood of Abra, where there was heavy fighting last Tuesday, then turned into a battleground as Hezbollah fighters on the overlooking hillsides attacked Assir's mosque.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Suspected attack leader still ‘free’
- Panel to advise Pope Francis on sex abuse
- American teacher shot dead in Benghazi