News / Middle East

Lebanese Port City Rocked by Fighting

Lebanese army soldiers gesture as they capture a gunman in Sidon, southern Lebanon, June 24, 2013.
Lebanese army soldiers gesture as they capture a gunman in Sidon, southern Lebanon, June 24, 2013.
Edward Yeranian
At least 16 Lebanese Army soldiers have been killed since fighting broke out Sunday in the port city of Sidon between followers of a militant Sunni cleric and government troops.

Troops exchanged gunfire with armed Sunni militants holed up inside a mosque. Lebanese media reported dozens of casualties, including Sunni fighters, over a dozen soldiers and a number of civilians. Islamic militants also attacked army troops outside a Palestinian refugee camp near the city.

A top Sunni cleric in the northern city of Tripoli, Sheikh Salem al-Rifai, told journalists that negotiations with Lebanese Army officials to impose a one-hour truce to evacuate the dead and wounded had broken down.

Eyewitnesses reported that Shi'ite militiamen from the pro-Iranian Hezbollah group had taken part in the fighting in Sidon. Sunni member of parliament Bahia Hariri told a TV station that she was surrounded in her home outside the city by armed gunmen.

Former Prime Minister Fouad Saniora told reporters that he and other top leaders, including President Michel Suleiman, were trying to “impose a complete curfew in Sidon,” and the “withdrawal of all militiamen from the city.”

Hezbollah's al Manar TV claimed that the “security perimeter” outside the mosque where fighting was taking place was being “cleaned out” by Lebanese troops. The TV also claimed that Sunni Sheikh Amad al-Assir, who was leading the battle, had fled to an outlying village.

The reports could not be independently confirmed..

Khattar Abou Diab, who teaches political science at the University of Paris, says that Syria's civil war is causing tensions between Sunni and Shi'ite adversaries to erupt in parts of neighboring Lebanon.

He says that sectarian fighting has broken out in Lebanon and Sunnis are siding with Sunnis and Shi'ites are siding with Shi'ites, creating fresh divisions in the country despite pledges by various leaders to keep the country outside the Syrian conflict.

Civilians could be seen fleeing the Adra neighborhood of Sidon, epicenter of the conflict, during brief lulls in the fighting. Lebanese TV reported that the nearby Zahrani power plant was damaged by fighting, depriving the city of power and disabling water pumping stations.

You May Like

UN Ambassador Power Highlights Plight of Women Prisoners

She launches the 'Free the 20' campaign, aimed at profiling women being deprived of their freedom around the world More

Satellite Launch Sparks Spectacular Light Show

A slight delay in a satellite launch lit up the Florida sky early this morning More

Fleeing IS Killings in Syria, Family Reaches Bavaria

Exhausted, scared and under-nourished, Khalil and Maha's tale mirrors those of thousands of refugees from war-torn countries who have left their homes in the hopes of finding a better life More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOAi
X
August 31, 2015 2:17 AM
Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOA

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Iraq's southern wetlands are in crisis. These areas are the spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, and source of livelihood for fishermen and herders. Faith Lapidus has more.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Rebuilding New Orleans' Music Scene

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans, threatening to wash away its vibrant musical heritage along with its neighborhoods, the beat goes on. As Bronwyn Benito and Faith Lapidus report, a Musicians' Village is preserving the city's unique sound.
Video

Video In Russia, Auto Industry in Tailspin

Industry insiders say country relies too heavily on imports as inflation cuts too many consumers out of the market. Daniel Schearf has more from Moscow.
Video

Video Scientist Calls Use of Fetal Tissue in Medical Research Essential

An anti-abortion group responsible for secret recordings of workers at a women's health care organization claims the workers shown are offering baby parts for sale, a charge the organization strongly denies. While the selling of fetal tissue is against the law in the United States, abortion and the use of donated fetal tissue for medical research are both legal. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.

VOA Blogs