News / Middle East

Fighting Rages in Lebanon's Third Largest City

A Lebanese army soldier takes a position behind a car near the mosque complex (background), where hardline Sunni cleric Sheikh Ahmed al-Assir was believed to be sheltering with his supporters in Abra near Sidon, southern Lebanon, June 24, 2013.
A Lebanese army soldier takes a position behind a car near the mosque complex (background), where hardline Sunni cleric Sheikh Ahmed al-Assir was believed to be sheltering with his supporters in Abra near Sidon, southern Lebanon, June 24, 2013.
Smoke rises near a mosque complex, where hardline Sunni cleric Sheikh Ahmed al-Assir was believed to be sheltering with his supporters in Abra near Sidon, southern Lebanon, June 24, 2013.Smoke rises near a mosque complex, where hardline Sunni cleric Sheikh Ahmed al-Assir was believed to be sheltering with his supporters in Abra near Sidon, southern Lebanon, June 24, 2013.
x
Smoke rises near a mosque complex, where hardline Sunni cleric Sheikh Ahmed al-Assir was believed to be sheltering with his supporters in Abra near Sidon, southern Lebanon, June 24, 2013.
Smoke rises near a mosque complex, where hardline Sunni cleric Sheikh Ahmed al-Assir was believed to be sheltering with his supporters in Abra near Sidon, southern Lebanon, June 24, 2013.
Fierce fighting between Lebanese security forces and gunmen loyal to a hard-line Sunni Muslim cleric raged for a second day in the southern city of Sidon leaving dozens of soldiers and militants dead.  
 
For two days radical Sunni gunmen have clashed with Lebanese soldiers - the worst fighting Lebanon’s third largest city has seen since 2008.

Army sources say at least 16 soldiers have died in the violence centered on a mosque in the Abra district in this port city.

Veteran politician Osama Saad said the battles remind him of the day his father, Maarouf, a pro-Palestinian and pro-Syrian Lebanese leader, was slain by a sniper’s bullet in Sidon in 1975.
 
“He was leading a demonstration for fishermen," he said. "They had demands. He was shot in the middle of the street by a sniper and that ignited the civil war.”

The 15-year-long civil war left more than 120,000 Lebanese dead.

Saad, who leads his father’s party now, the pro-Syrian Nasserite Popular Front, said through a translator that the battle in Sidon brings back bitter memories.
 
“Today I remember the atmosphere of the civil war, I used to hear a lot of shelling and snipers," he said. "I don’t wish at all this experience will be repeated again.”
 
The two-day battle was triggered when supporters of Sunni Sheikh Amad al-Assir attacked an army checkpoint after soldiers seized a couple of their comrades.

Al-Assir has been calling for Sunni Muslims to launch a holy war against Lebanon’s militant Shi'ite movement Hezbollah because of its military support for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in the civil war in neighboring Syria.

Sidon, which had been spared the sectarian gun-battles that have flared increasingly in the northern Lebanon town of Tripoli and in the Bekaa Valley bordering Syria, witnessed brief fighting last week but a truce was brokered.

The renewal of the shooting caught many civilians by surprise after just returning to the city after fighting last week.

Among them was 28-year-old Sunni Muslim Zeinab Nassar, who says the fighting may be the harbinger of a civil war - a fear shared by many Lebanese.  She spoke as gunfire resumed after a brief cease-fire.
 
“There were a lot of bombs and guns going on through the night," she said. "We are all worried about this. We think this is the first spark. We can only hope now.”

Sheikh al-Assir is believed to have escaped from his besieged mosque and the army is hunting for him.

You May Like

Lesotho Faces New Round of Violence, Political Crisis

Brutal killing of military officer has sent former leaders back into S. Africa where they're watching anxiously as regional officials head in to try to restore peace More

Video US Diplomat Expects Adoption of Bosnian Massacre Anniversary Resolution

Samantha Power says there's broad consensus about killings in Bosnia's war, but Russia calls resolution 'divisive,' backs UN countermeasure More

UN Report Exposes Widespread Boko Haram Atrocities

Damning report graphically details pattern of vicious, widespread atrocities committed by Islamist militants More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountaini
X
July 02, 2015 4:10 AM
Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video US Silica Sand Mining Surge Worries Illinois Residents, Businesses

Increased domestic U.S. oil and gas production, thanks to advances known as “fracking,” has created a boom for other industries supporting that extraction. Demand for silica sand, used in fracking, could triple over the next five years. In the Midwest state of Illinois, people living near the mines are worried about how increased silica sand mining will affect their businesses and their health. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more in this first of a series of reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.

VOA Blogs