BEIRUT: Lebanon’s army yesterday deployed in Hezbollah’s southern Beirut stronghold taking over checkpoints in a deal struck with the Shia group.
Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah welcomed the move in a televised address and urged local residents to cooperate.
Troops and security forces began entering the area in the afternoon, taking over checkpoints set up by his Shiite militant group after two car bombings in the southern suburbs.
“We welcome this step and greatly appreciate this national decision taken by state officials,” Nasrallah said.
“We hope that the state and its official carry out their national and legal duties towards all of Lebanon’s regions,” he added.
He called on residents of the group’s stronghold, and those passing through it, to show “cooperation and respect” for the security forces and their measures.
Around 1,200 Lebanese troops and security forces began deploying in the mainly Shia southern suburbs.
A journalist at the scene said the deployment was taking place in stages, with Hezbollah members still visible at some checkpoints on side streets in late afternoon.
The security points were established after two car bombings in the southern suburbs that killed 27 people on August 15 and wounded more than 50 on July 9.
Interior Minister Marwan Charbel said after the army deployment: “No one else will be authorised to be present at the checkpoints ... The state must extend its control over all Lebanese territory.”
Charbel toured the southern suburbs as the deployment began and stressed it was being carried out “with coordination between the state and all parties.”