Army Deploys in Tripoli's Souks, Pursues Gunmen after Clashes Kill at Least 4, Wound 20

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Several civilians and troops were killed as 20 soldiers and civilians were wounded in armed clashes in the old souks of the northern city of Tripoli that erupted Friday evening and continued until Saturday afternoon.

In the evening, the army said its units completed their deployment in the old souks and the al-Zahriyeh neighborhood after arresting several gunmen and wounding many others.

“Quantities of arms, ammunition and explosives were seized in their possession, while a number of militants fled from the area and army units are pursuing them in order to arrest them,” the army added.

Later on Saturday, state-run National News Agency said "an exchange of gunfire erupted between the army and gunmen near al-Walid supermarket in Bab al-Tabbaneh."

And MTV said "the clashes zone has expanded in Bab al-Tabbaneh."

Voice of Lebanon radio (93.3) said gunmen opened fire at an army post at the Abu Ali roundabout near Bab al-Tabbaneh and “the clash lasted for around 10 minutes without causing any casualties.”

MTV meanwhile said heavy gunfire targeted the Hariri residential complex in al-Qobbeh, noting that the army brought reinforcements from outside Tripoli.

It later said a shell landed in Bab al-Tabbaneh as gunmen fired another shell at an army post at the Abu Ali roundabout.

“The army is clashing with an armed group in the center of al-Mallouleh in Tripoli,” it reported.

Al-Jadeed TV said “a hand grenade was hurled as several volleys of machinegun fire were heard in Bab al-Tabbaneh.”

Meanwhile, the National News Agency said an armed group kidnapped the soldier Tannous Nehme as he was passing through Bab al-Tabbaneh in a taxi.

It said he lives in the northern region of Bsharri and serves at the Officers Club in Jounieh.

The gunmen demanded “an end to the siege imposed on them in return for his release,” NNA said.

Cautious calm had engulfed the old souks after a mediation by the Muslim Scholars Committee led to the withdrawal of the militants from the streets, NNA said.

But military sources stressed to LBCI TV that the army will press on with the battle against the gunmen regardless of “what some parties are trying to do.”

The fighting has resulted in the death of Tripoli residents Abdul Nasser al-Masri and his son Taha and the wounding of six civilians and 13 troops including an officer, according to NNA.

The Army Command issued a statement announcing the names of an officer and five troops killed in the clashes in Tripoli and the nearby northern region of Minieh.

It identified them as First Lieutenant Firas Mahmoud al-Hakim, Sergeant Mohammed Ali Noon, the soldiers Ahmed Saeed Asaad and Mohammed Ali Yassine, and the conscripts Abbas Haidar Ibrahim and Jaafar Ali Asaad.

At least two militants have been killed in the clashes, with MTV reporting that “the bodies of two gunmen have been found in Tripoli's souks.”

A security source had told Agence France-Presse that six militants have been wounded in the battles.

In a statement, the army stressed that it will press on with its military operation “until the gunmen are eradicated and all armed appearances are prevented in Tripoli.”

It called on citizens to “fully comply with the measures that are being implemented by army units and to report any suspicious behavior to the military posts.”

In a sign of its determination to continue the crackdown, the army said it raided “the house of detained terrorist Ahmed Salim Miqati, aka Abu Bakr and Abu al-Huda, seizing a large of quantity of explosives.”

“A military expert is dismantling them in order to transfer them to a safe location where they will be detonated later on,” the army added.

And in another statement, the military announced that its forces stormed “the house of fugitive terrorist Rabih al-Shami in the Daftardar area, where he was arrested and quantities of arms, ammunition and communication devices were seized.”

“A store containing medical supplies which the gunmen had been using to treat their wounded” was also raided at al-Shami's house, the army said.

The lull in the fighting allowed TV reporters to enter the old souks around 3:00 p.m. and broadcast live footage from the clashes-hit area.

“Following contacts with Justice Minister Ashraf Rifi and the city's leaders, the Muslim Scholars Committee called on journalists to enter the clashes zone and broadcast footage proving that the gunmen have withdrawn from the streets,” NNA said.

But the Army Command underlined in a phone call with the same agency that the battle “of pursuing the terrorist gunmen in Tripoli will continue and there will be no retreat before the terrorists are eradicated.”

“The battle in Tripoli will continue and we have nothing to do with what some parties are doing. We will open fire at the gunmen once we spot them and we won't show them any tolerance,” a military source told LBCI.

The clashes had renewed in the morning after easing off for several hours during the night.

The gunbattle initially erupted in the old souks and extended to other areas.

NNA said the army clashed with gunmen in the city's souks area as soldiers besieged the armed men.

The army brought reinforcements to the areas of clashes and blocked all roads leading to the markets.

A Lebanese army surveillance plane also flew over the area.

Heavy shelling and gunfire was reportedly heard as the army launched its assault on the gunmen's positions.

Troops attempted to evacuate families trapped inside the market, where many of the shops have been burned down in the fighting.

The battles caused extensive material damage to shops, buildings and vehicles.

Rocket-propelled grenades and heavy, medium and light arms were used in the clashes.

“Terrorists are seeking to destabilize the situation in Tripoli and create incitement and sectarian strife,” the army said in a communique on Saturday.

The statement pointed out that the army “is carrying out raids in suspicious areas to apprehend gunmen and refer them to the competent judiciary.”

The military added that eight soldier were wounded in the clashes including a lieutenant.

NNA denied media reports that gunmen stormed a church in the area and attacked army units outside the city's internal markets.

The news agency reported that the gunmen who are battling the army are linked to the Islamic State extremist group, pointing out that the army inflicted severe losses on the armed groups.

It added that the armed men called for help from other jihadists, including al-Qaida-linked al-Nusra Front, but no group answered the call.

Mufti of Tripoli and the North Sheikh Malek al-Shaar postponed on Saturday a Muslim-Christian spiritual meeting that was set to be held in Tripoli in the upcoming days.

“The National Tripoli Gathering” was planned to stress the “unity of the people on the national principles.”

The army has been facing rising assaults in Tripoli recently following the gunbattles between troops and Sunni jihadists who overran the northeastern border town of Arsal in August.

A meeting was later held at the residence of Shaar for the city's prominent figures, including former Prime Minister Najib Miqati, ex-Minister Ahmed Karami and MP Mohammed Kabbara.

Shaar stressed after the meeting that the residents of Tripoli “support the army's security plan in the city, which wants to stay under the authority of the state.”

“Tripoli is our first concern,” the mufti said, expressing hope that calm would prevail soon.

For his part, ex-PM Miqati hailed the postponement of the conference, describing it as a “wise” move.

He pointed out that Prime Minister Tammam Salam was contacted in order to discuss the upcoming measures that would restore calm in Tripoli.

Shaar called on the Higher Relief Council to help those who were affected by the clashes.

Justice Minister Rifi later said in a press conference that gunmen will not enjoy any political cover, stressing that Tripoli supports the state and will overcome threats.

“We will not slip into chaos,” Rifi pointed out.

The minister, who stressed the importance of coexistence in Tripoli, noted that the city will not be turned into a “military zone.”

Ever since the war in neighboring Syria broke out in 2011, Tripoli has been the scene of regular fighting between Sunni militants and members of Lebanon's Alawite minority.

Islamist gunmen have also turned on the Lebanese army, accusing it of targeting Sunnis and of cooperating with Hizbullah.

H.K./Y.R.

Comments 26
Thumb geha over 5 years

May GOD protect the army in its efforts to remove ALL terrorists from ALL sides.

Default-user-icon mustapha o. ghalayini (Guest) over 5 years

i have a dream:
that the lebanese forces will invade TOO , places to capture the killers of wissam el hassan...the kidnappers...the wanted from international tribunal....
will the other eye open???/
n.b. to the manager of this site,u cannot ignore this comment..it is equal to treason

Default-user-icon _.flamethrower_.. (Guest) over 5 years

why was I banned???

Default-user-icon illiterate.southern (Guest) over 5 years

so well said southern

Default-user-icon the-resistance2 (Guest) over 5 years

god bless kobani

Thumb Kalzyturks over 5 years

Protector of the land im sorry to say is not the Lebanese Army.

God bless them yes and God help them.

They are helpless as the armed group in the south acts with impunity.

Default-user-icon ML (Guest) over 5 years

Take no prisoners. We've had enough of these terrorists being arrested and then released or having them escape a few months after. Kill them all.

Thumb al.finique over 5 years

bro phoenix, I must to agree with you on this one bro. Yes hard and hit hard till everyone respects the authority.

Default-user-icon +phoenix1 (Guest) over 5 years

what about blessing the resistance @-phoenix1? walaw?!

Default-user-icon Judge (Guest) over 5 years

They should summon Nasrallah's hand picked, post putsch post one way ticket, prime minster for interrogation. He might shed some light on what Nasrallah's plans to destabilize the North were and what Nasrallah offered him and his friends to defect from M14. Also they should ask him if his change in loyalty from Lebanon to Nasrallah, if it was all worth it.

Default-user-icon haydar! (Guest) over 5 years

So lemme get this straight, these terrorists are here attacking the Lebanese army because someone in the Lebanese army decided a couple of years ago to arrest the ones trying to get to Syria to fight there; after all going there contravenes the Baabda declaration. At the same time instead of arresting the HA fighters also going to fight in Syria someone in the Lebanese army decided to select protected roads for them to seamlessly get there with easy; the fact that their going there also counters the Baabda declaration that HA signed did not matter.
So instead of listening to SHN call to other jihadis, "you go there, we go there, let's fight", someone in the Lebanese army decided to stop the other jihadist from going there and now they are here fighting the Lebanese army. This is like when they did not listen to SHN 's red lines in 2007 and attacked Nahr el Barid instead of accepting SHN's decree to negotiate with the Lebanese army murdering terrorists. SHN always right listen to him!

Thumb nickjames over 5 years

Lebanon should just give Tripoli, Akkar, Beqaa, and the south to Syria. Lebanon would have no more problems

Default-user-icon Thumb > (Guest) over 5 years

flamethrower how come when you're not posting most m8 spammers also don't post? Humm?

Default-user-icon _mowaten_ (Guest) over 5 years

i was thinking the same thing @cityboy

Missing youssefhaddad over 5 years

All these battles at the end of the day have again the Lebanese blood spilled and their properties destroyed for the sake of the Syrian and Iranian Regimes.
None of this would have happened if the Lebanese government was allowed to become unified and strong.

Missing bigjohn over 5 years

The Syrian and Iranian regime want Lebanon to become strong and united. It is the Pro-Israeli Zionist paid regimes in the west and their hated Arab puppets who do not want the Lebanese and ALL ARABS united and stand up to the Israeli colonial aggression and their Arab puppets. Most of the masses in the Arab world want the natives to be united and STRONG. MOST of the NATIVES see ONLY the ethnic cleansing, settler, Userping, colonial racist Apartheid terrorist Israeli state and the Zionist paid American government AS THE ENEMY! Hey, the natives can wait! In South Africa there was more black on black violence during Apartheid and it took more than 200 years to end White rule. Even in your USA, the white man (person of European heritage) will become a minority in 30 years. This is significant because polls showed that ONLY the whites by a majority recently supported Israeli aggression against GAZA and support the falling American Empire.

Thumb galaxy over 5 years

lol

Missing --karim. over 5 years

God bless the Lebanese Army for protecting Lebanon against the Saudi-funded FSA-Al Qaeda-ISIS jihadist terrorists.

Missing bigjohn over 5 years

"Shaar stressed after the meeting that the residents of Tripoli “support the army's." ...."The army has been facing rising assaults in Tripoli".................When the Saudi and American supported sectarian thugs were killing and trying to expel Alewites from Tripoli, their supporters were blaming ALL the fighting on the Arab Democratic Party. Now, they are not around to blame so they blame HA intervention in Syria. Off course, other countries like America, Israel, the KSA intervened militarily in dozens of countries without any blame. Recently The M14 Puppet leaders recently announced that they wanted Lebanon to be in the (Zionist run) American "coalition" who are bombing ISIL and Al Nusra in Iraq AND SYRIA who the Lebanese Army are fighting in Tripoli TODAY! How can these stupid puppet M14 leaders support US led war in Iraq and Syria while opposing HA involvement against the same groups?

Thumb nickjames over 5 years

John, we can't blame the Alawis because they fled the country. Remember when Hezbollah came to Tripoli and escorted the Eids out to Syria? Remember how Refaat ended up in Orange County?

Default-user-icon Name (Guest) over 5 years

FT's having a major malfunction.

Thumb canadianpaul over 5 years

The army should make a left turn after finishing with this filth. There's more filth to clean up in Dahieh.

Missing --karim. over 5 years

Well said, Saudipaul.

Thumb Mystic over 5 years

God bless Lebanese army, struggling to root out the takfiri scourge.

Thumb megahabib over 5 years

Now the army is finally exterminating the Salafi vermin.

Default-user-icon tigger (Guest) over 5 years

I am shocked that any publication would allow or even post such vulgur and abusive language. This exactly highlights the problem with us the Lebanese or those that claim they are. It also highlights why Lebanon will never change as long as thugs and individuals like this exist in our society. No constructive discussions but garbage and discrimination. Then you wonder what's wrong with Lebanon? I am proud to be Lebanese but you should be ashamed to claim you are or even to carry our colours. Tone it down and if you hate each other and all religions and type of Lebanese or other, god forgive you. Hatred and discrimination never builds a nation but destroys a society and while you guys are exactly trying to destroy our lovely society,you will fail because it doesn't make you any different than the scum terrorists. Look at yourself in the mirror. You still have time to heal. I pity your deranged minds.