Tripoli and Lebanon’s North Under Attack
Reuters reported that fighting spread to Arsal, the frontier town in Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley, which militants briefly seized in the summer. The Islamist killed 20 soldiers and captured many more before withdrawing from the town.
Lebanese Prime Minister Tammam Salam called on residents of Tripoli to support the government during “these difficult times” and said the city would not be abandoned. (Reuters, 26 October)
Lebanese security sources told Reuters that the militants include both Lebanese and Syrian affiliates or supporters of Islamic State and the Nusra Front. The insurgents, who are overwhelmingly Sunni, accuse the army of working with Lebanese Hezbollah, a Shia movement and militia force, which has sent thousands of fighters to Syria to fight against the Sunni opposition forces.
UPDATE: The Lebanese Army started evacuating residents from Tripoli districts affected by the fighting, KUNA reported on Sunday. Some Tripoli neighborhoods, especially Bab al-Tabana, have been the scene of fierce fighting between the army and the Islamist militants since Friday.
Photo credit: Lebanese army soldiers take positions during clashes with Islamist militants in Tripoli; 26 October 2014. (Reuters)