Tripoli Cautiously Quiet After Army's Deployment Following Gun Clashes

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Tripoli, Lebanon | May 15, 2012

Order was partially restored as Lebanese army forces deployed to the northern Lebanese city of Tripoli on Tuesday, May 15, to bring to an end the violent clashes between the two rival neighborhoods of Bab al-Tabbaneh and Jabal Mohsen that resulted in at least eight people, and wounded more than 70.

Armed forces with armored vehicles scrambled to the area, and began erecting checkpoints, particularly along a primarily Syrian Street which runs between Bab al-Tabbaneh a neighborhood of Sunni residents who oppose Syrian President Bashar Assad, and Jabal Mohsen whose Alawite residents are supporters of the Syrian regime.

The Lebanese Army said in a statement that its presence in Tripoli was only to protect the civilians not to clash with them.
However, the people of Bab al-Tabbaneh have accused the army of being biased toward Jabal Mohsen.

SOUNDBITE 1 (Arabic) – Sunni woman:
"The army comes here peacefully and safely. Why did they start shooting the people and the innocent civilians. Why do they not harm those of Jabal Mohsen in any way? Is it because they are backed by the party of evil (referring to Hezbollah)? We want to understand. We are humans like them. Why are they favored over us? What law or constitution requires humiliation of the Sunni people in particular?"

SOUNDBITE 2 (Arabic) – Sunni man:
"The army is biased to one party, which we do not accept. We have three injuries here. The three were unarmed, uninvolved and had nothing to do the fighting. Why should we allow ourselves to be attacked by the Lebanese army? Why is the army biased to Jabal Mohsen? They are the ones who started it. The Alawites of Jabal Mohsen believe that whoever kills a Sunni will go to Heaven! In what religion or Shariah can this be accepted?"

Security Sources said that the army has orders to arrest any gunmen and transfer them to the Military Tribunal.

Clashes erupted early Sunday between two families, Sunni opponents and Alawite supporters of Assad, after the controversial arrest of a Muslim Sunni cleric over connection to "an armed terrorist group.”

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