Lebanon gives army control over Tripoli

December 03, 2013 - 8:18:20 am

A man holds up a broken wooden structure in a burnt makeshift Syrian refugee camp after it was attacked by residents of the neighbouring eastern Lebanese village of Qsar Naba in the Bekaa valley, yesterday.
BEIRUT: Lebanon’s government has given the army full responsibility for security in the restive coastal city of Tripoli for six months, caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati told LBC television yesterday.

Ten people were killed over the weekend in clashes between militia supporting opposing sides of the Syrian conflict, the latest in regular outbreaks of bloodletting in the city that started during Lebanon’s own civil war but have intensified since the Syrian revolt started in 2011.

Meanwhile, residents of a village in eastern Lebanon forced hundreds of Syrian refugees from an informal campsite yesterday, setting fire to tents after accusing them of raping a mentally-disabled man.

But a doctor who examined the man said there was no evidence he was attacked, and one resident of the village said the alleged rape was a pretext to drive the refugees from the site. The incident comes amid warnings from the Lebanese government and aid agencies about tensions between Lebanese communities and the more than 800,000 Syrian refugees who have fled to the small country, which has its own long history of unrest.

The informal camp in the eastern Bekaa village of Qsar Naba housed some 400 refugees in around 100 tents and shelters.

On Sunday a group of local residents stormed the camp, setting fire to some of the tents and threatening its residents.

After the attack, many of the refugees began dismantling their shelters and spent Sunday night sleeping in the open nearby.

The residents returned yesterday, the refugees said, setting fire to at least 15 tents and knocking down others.

Ahmed Abdul Mahmud, a 33-year-old refugee, said members of the local Dirani family led the attack. “The Diranis burned the tents and then refused to allow the fire brigade through to put the flames out,” he said.

“There’s not a single tent left for us,” he said, weeping.

He said the attackers beat the refugees and stole their belongings.  “They accused us of attacking a young man, knowing that the Lebanese army had already raided the tents, arrested about 30 people and then released them all for lack of evidence.”

“I have three children, the eldest of whom is just six. We don’t know where to go. After this I just want to go back to Syria.”


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