Syrian Civil War spillover in Lebanon

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Syrian Civil War spillover in Lebanon
Part of the impact of the Arab Spring and the Syrian civil war
Lebanese army in Tripoli.PNG
Lebanese army in Tripoli after 2012 sectarian clashes
Date 17 June 2011 – present
(2 years, 10 months and 2 days)
Location Tripoli, Saida, Akkar, Arsal and Beirut, Lebanon
Result Ongoing
Belligerents
Anti-Syrian government militants:

Al-Nusra Front
Fatah al-Islam
Jund al-Sham
Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant
Abdullah Azzam Brigade
Supported by:
Saudi Arabia

Pro-Syrian government militants:

Arab Democratic Party[1]
SSNP[2]
Hezbollah
PNO
Arab Movement Party[3]
Islamic Unification Movement Supported by:
Syria

Lebanese government:

Lebanese Army
ISF

Commanders and leaders
Ahmed Al-Assir
Islam al-Shahal
Majed al-Majed 
Ziad Alloukeh
Rifa'at Eid
Hassan Nasrallah
Hassan al-Laqqis 
Shaker Berjawi
Michel Suleiman
Jean Kahwaji
Roger Salem
Ashraf Rifi
Total casualties:
435-452 killed and 2,270~ wounded

Fighting from the Syrian Civil War has spilled over into Lebanon as Lebanese opponents and supporters of the Syrian government have travelled to Syria to fight and attack each other on Lebanese soil. The Syrian conflict has been described as having stoked a "resurgence of sectarian violence in Lebanon",[4] with Lebanon's Sunni Muslims mostly supporting the rebels in Syria, while Shi'ites have largely supported Assad, whose Alawite minority is usually described as an offshoot of Shi'a Islam.[5] Killings, unrest, and kidnappings of foreign citizens across Lebanon has resulted.

In mid 2011, seven people were killed and 59 wounded in a fight between gunmen in Tripoli. In May 2012, the conflict spread to Beirut, and later to south and east Lebanon, while the Lebanese Armed Forces deployed in north Lebanon and Beirut. As of December 2013 there have been at least 355 fatalities and more than 2,000 injuries. Among Lebanon's political blocs the anti-Syrian Saudi-backed March 14 Alliance supports the Syrian rebels, and the Iranian-backed pro-Syrian March 8 Alliance supports the Syrian government.

Background[edit]

2012 VOA report about the context of the conflict

Since the Cedar Revolution in 2005 and the withdrawal of the occupying Syrian forces from the country, the Lebanese political spectrum has been divided between the anti-Syrian government March 14 alliance and the pro-Syrian government March 8 alliance.[6] The March 14 alliance, led by the mainly Sunni Muslim Future Movement, which is allied with the Maronite Christian Kataeb Party, has called for Lebanese aid to the Free Syrian Army and taking a stronger stance against the Syrian government.[7][8]

This has been rejected by the ruling March 8 alliance, which includes the Shia Hezbollah and allies such as the Maronite Free Patriotic Movement, among others. In August, The Jerusalem Post reported that protesters, enraged at Hezbollah's support for Syria's government, burned Hezbollah flags and images of its leader Hassan Nasrallah in several places in Syria.[9] Pro-government protestors countered the actions by carrying posters of Nasrallah.[10] Hezbollah states they support a process of reforms in Syria and that they are also against U.S. plots to destabilize and interfere in Syria,[11] amid comments by U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton that it should be "abundantly clear to those who support Assad [the] 'regime' [that] its days are numbered."[12] It was reported that, "sales of black market weapons in Lebanon have skyrocketed in recent weeks due to demand in Syria."[13] In June 2011, clashes in the Lebanese city of Tripoli between members of the Alawite minority, loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, and members of the Sunni majority left seven people dead.[14]

Future Movement MP Okab Sakr was long suspected to be involved in aiding the insurgents in the Syrian civil war.[15][16] At first he denied his involvement, but admitted it when Al Akbhar published audio tapes of him making arms deals with Syrian insurgernts.[17] Sakr later claimed the tapes were edited, and that he only provided Syrians with milk and blankets.[18]

Sunni extremists from Tripoli have been flocking to Syria to join the terrorist al-Nusra Front.[19] Hezbollah fighters have been deployed to protect border towns inhabited by Lebanese Shias from the rebels.[20]

The Lebanese Army has attempted to disassociate itself form the conflict in Syria, and to prevent clashes within Lebanon.[21][22][23]

Timeline[edit]

Early incidents[edit]

Lebanese army personnel on Syria Street, guarding the border between Bab al-Tabbaneh and Jabal Mohsen in 2011

In interfactional clashes in Tripoli, seven people were killed and 59 wounded, on 17 June 2011. Armed clashes erupted following a rally in support of Syrian protesters. Fighting broke out between gunmen positioned in the rival neighborhoods of Jabal Mohsen (mainly Alawites who support the Syrian regime) and Bab al-Tabbaneh (mainly Sunnis, supporting the Syrian uprising). Among the dead were a Lebanese army soldier and an official from the Alawite Arab Democratic Party.[14]

From 10 to 11 February 2012, two[24] or three people died in fighting in Tripoli's neighborhoods of Jabal Mohsen and Bab al-Tebbaneh. An intervention by the Lebanese Army resulted in the injury of six soldiers.[25][26]

On 29 April 2012, the Lebanese navy confiscated a large consignment of arms and ammunition on the container ship "Lutfallah II," which was headed for the port of Tripoli in northern Lebanon before it was intercepted. The ship had begun its voyage from Libya and some of the arms on it were labelled as "Libyan." According to the BBC, it is generally believed the consignment was destined for the rebels in Syria.[27] Four people were also wounded during a clash between supporters of the Syrian opposition and Sunni supporters of Assad from the Tawheed Movement.[28]

May 2012 Bab al-Tabbaneh–Jabal Mohsen clashes[edit]

In May 2012, Salafists in Tripoli demanded the release of a Sunni Islamist, Shadi Mawlawi, who had been arrested on charges of belonging to a terrorist organization. The Salafists claimed that they were ready to fight if the army tried to clear their blockade by force.[29][30]

The arrest of Mawlawi triggered a new round of fighting between Islamists and Alawites in Tripoli.[31][32] Two to four people were killed when fighting erupted on the night of 12 May 2012.[24][33][34] In the evening of 12 May, rocket-propelled grenades and automatic rifles were used in the fighting in an Alawite enclave and surrounding Sunni neighbourhoods in the port city.[citation needed] Hours before the clashes, Lebanese troops exchanged fire with a group of young Islamists protesting in Tripoli for the release of a terrorism suspect.[33] The outbreak of gunfire between the Islamists and the army happened as the youths, sympathisers with those partaking in the Syrian uprising, tried to approach the offices of the pro-Syrian Syrian Social Nationalist Party.[33] In all, three of the dead were reportedly Sunni civilians, while one was an army officer.[34]

The fighting continued on 14 May, which resulted in the death of five Alawites and one Sunni.[35][36] The army then deployed to the area on 15 May, and engaged in gunbattles with residents that left eight wounded, including a soldier.[37] By 16 May, the clashes left 11 dead, including a soldier.[35][36][38]

By 18 May, a total of 12 people were dead and more than 100 wounded in the clashes.[39]

Killing of Ahmad Abdel-Wahid[edit]

On 20 May 2012, a prominent Lebanese Sunni cleric, Sheikh Ahmad Abdel-Wahid, and his aide, Mohammed Merheb, were killed by the Lebanese Army, when failing to stop at a check point in Akkar, north Lebanon.[40] His death provoked protesters into cutting off roads in many parts of the country with burning tires. A Sunni leader threatened to establish a "Free Lebanese Army", if the authorities did not work to solve the murder of the prominent Lebanese anti-Assad Sunni cleric.[41]

The following day, 22 army personnel present at the shooting were arrested, and Future Movement MP Khaled Al Daher called for their execution.[42] On 22 May, the Islamist Shadi Mawlawi was released in Tripoli.[43]

On 24 May, the March 14 Alliance, the anti-Assad Lebanese opposition block, called for a new government "aimed at confronting the attempt to ruin Lebanon."[44] At the same time, the Islamist protesters in Tripoli threatened that their demonstrations would spread all over Lebanon if about 180 Islamists arrested and accused of participating in the 2007 Lebanon conflict were not released.[45]

On 28 May, a civilian man who failed to stop at an army checkpoint was shot to death by soldiers.[46]

Beirut clashes[edit]

On 20 May 2012, the evening following the killing of Sheikh Abdel-Wahid, clashes erupted in Beirut's Tariq Jdideh neighborhood between armed Sunni militants of the Future Movement and Sunnis of Tayyar al-Arabi, leaving three dead and ten wounded and creating a tense security situation in the capital and the country as a whole.[47][48][49]

On 6 September 2012, two people were wounded in gunfights between Future Movement members in Beirut, and the army was deployed in the area.[50]

Kidnappings[edit]

In May 2012, Syrian opposition members kidnapped three pro-Syrian regime Lebanese in the village of Zeita near the Syrian border. In retaliation, 60 Syrian workers were kidnapped. The prisoners were exchanged on 16 May.[51]

On 22 May, at least 16 Lebanese Shia pilgrims were reportedly kidnapped by the Free Syrian Army in Aleppo.[52][53] The FSA denied responsibility and blamed them on what they termed "mafia gangs" and stated that they would help free the pilgrims.[54] The kidnappers said they would release the pilgrims if Lebanon recognised the Syrian opposition.[55] Of 11 hostages being held, one was released on 25 August.[56]

In late May, two Lebanese farmers were kidnapped and transported to Syria by pro-Syrian regime forces. Rifaat Eid of the Arab Democratic Party mediated for their release,[57] which occurred on 3 June.[58]

Several people were kidnapped, in response to other kidnappings, in June.[59] On 25 August, a Kuwaiti citizen was kidnapped in Howsh al-Ghanam in the Bekaa valley. However, the political nature of the kidnapping was questioned by the security services.[56]

Meqdad kidnappings[edit]

The Shia al-Meqdad clan abducted a group of 20 people, mainly alleged FSA members but also a Turk, in retaliation for the kidnapping of Hassan al-Meqdad on 13 August 2012 by the FSA. The armed branch of the clan threatened more actions if he was not released.[60][61] Several others who were kidnapped earlier were released as they were not affiliated with the FSA. The al-Meqdad's spokesman also said that the kidnappings occurred after Lebanon took no action to assure the release of their kidnapped member. As a result of the kidnappings and warnings, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Turkey and other Gulf Arab countries warned its citizens to leave the country. Protesters also blocked roads against the advice of Hezbollah at the inability of the government to take action on freeing Lebanese citizens abroad. This prompted Hezbollah's Nasrallah to say the situation was out of the control of Hezbollah and, in turn, prompted criticism of Hezbollah by 14 March.[citation needed]

June–July Tripoli clashes[edit]

On 30 May 2012, two more people were wounded in clashes between the Bab al-Tabbaneh and Jabal Mohsen neighborhoods.[62]

On 2–3 June, 15 people were killed and over 60 wounded in clashes around Tripoli. As a result of the fighting, the Army re-entered Syria Street, that divides the warring neighborhoods, to set up a buffer zone between the two sides.[63][64][65][66] Following the declaration of a cease-fire, there were several violations of the truce during the night of 3 June, in which one policeman and one soldier were wounded.[67]

On 8 June, one person was killed and three others were wounded when gunfire hit the Alawite neighborhood in Tripoli.[68]

On 25 June, there were clashes between families supporting different political factions in Miniyeh, North Lebanon.[69]

On 18 July, one was killed and several were wounded by stray bullets fired during anti-Syrian celebrations in Tripoli, following the bombing of several Syrian ministers.[70][71]

On 27 July, two men who were on their way home to Jabal Mohsen were stabbed by unidentified assailants, which lead to clashes between gunmen.[72]

Clashes near Lebanese-Syrian Border[edit]

At the beginning of the summer 2012, two Hezbollah fighters were killed in a clash with Syrian rebels who were on Lebanese territory.[73]

On 17 September, Syrian Ground-attack aircraft fired three missiles 500 metres (1,600 ft) over the border into Lebanese territory near Arsal. It was suggested that the jets were chasing rebels in the vicinity. The attack prompted Lebanese president Michel Sleiman to launch an investigation, whilst not publicly blaming Syria for the incident.[74]

On 22 September, a group of armed members of the Free Syrian Army attacked a border post near Arsal. This was reported to be the second incursion within a week. The group were chased off into the hills by the Lebanese Army, who detained and later released some rebels due to pressure from dignified locals. Michel Sleiman praised the actions taken by the military as maintaining Lebanon's position being "neutral from the conflicts of others". He called on border residents to "stand beside their army and assist its members." Syria has repeatedly called for an intensified crackdown on rebels that it claims are hiding in Lebanese border towns.[75][76]

On 11 October 2012, four shells fired by the Syrian military hit Masharih al-Qaa, where previous shelling incidents have caused fatalities. Lebanon's position of ignoring the attacks and dissociating itself from the conflict remained unchanged. The United Nations indicated that around eighty thousand refugees from Syria are currently being hosted in Lebanon.[77]

In October Hassan Nasrallah denied Hezbollah members were fighting alongside the Syrian army, but that Lebanese in Syria were only protecting Lebanese inhabited villages from the Free Syrian Army.[78]

June 2012 refugee camp clashes[edit]

On 16 June 2012, a Palestinian man was killed and eight others were wounded in clashes with the Lebanese Army in Nahr al-Bared refugee camp.[79] On 18 June, two Palestinians were killed and 10 more wounded in the camp and one Palestinian was killed in Ain al-Hilweh camp while protesting by the Lebanese Army.[80][81] On 27 June, clashes erupted in the Bourj al-Barajneh camp, with no casualties.[82]

Ahmed al-Assir sit in[edit]

The Sunni Muslim cleric Sheikh Ahmed Al-Assir and his supporters staged a sit in in the southern city of Sidon to protest Hezbollah's weapons.[83] This led to tensions, and later clashes between Assir-supporters and members of the Popular Nasserist Organization.[84][85] An AFP photographer was beaten during the clash.[86] The following day, counter-protests were held.[84]

On 8 August 2012, a gunfight between supporters and rivals of Assir wounded five, including two women.[87]

Michel Samaha arrest[edit]

On 9 August 2012, Lebanese police arrested former Lebanese minister Michel Samaha, who was later indicted by the court for setting up an armed group to incite sectarian strife through "terrorist attacks" on behalf of the Syrian government. The court also indicted two Syrian army officials, the head of Syrian National Security Bureau Major General Ali Mamlouk and Brigadier General Adnan. Reportedly, Samaha confessed to planning on carrying out several bombings in Akkar District and other targets in northern Lebanon. The opposition March 14 alliance called for a rapid investigation and, if confirmed, an immediate cutting of relations with Syria and trying Samaha for grand treason. The ruling March 8 alliance meanwhile dismissed Samaha's arrest as a "March 14 campaign".[88][89][90]

August Tripoli clashes[edit]

On 9 August 2012, Sunni supporters of Hezbollah from the Tawheed Movement clashed with Salafists in Tripoli.[91][92]

On 20 and 21 August 12 people were killed and more than 100 wounded, including 15 soldiers, in clashes between Sunni Muslims and Alawites in Lebanon's northern city of Tripoli in another spillover from the war in neighboring Syria, according to security and medical sources. At least two of the dead were from Jabal Mohsen and five were from Bab al-Tabbaneh. Among the dead was also a 13-year-old boy. Five of the soldiers were injured by gunfire on 20 August, and another five on the next day after a grenade was lobbed at an army checkpoint.[93][94]

On 22 August, the Lebanese Army made a renewed attempt to stop the violence, deploying troops into the feuding neighborhoods. However, the army sustained heavy casualties, and was forced to retreat. After opening a dialogue with community leaders, the army managed to forge a ceasefire between the two parties.[95]

The ceasefire dissolved on 23 August, as fresh clashes erupted across the city. The Lebanese Army has deployed tanks to the neighbourhoods, in a renewed attempt to bring the situation under control.[95]

On 24 August, further fighting occurred after a dawn exchange of small arms fire and rocket-propelled grenades between Sunni and Alawite fighters in the Qobbah and Jabal Muhsin neighbourhoods. The skirmish provoked unrest throughout both districts, and at least 7 Alawite-owned shops in Sunni neighborhoods were torched by unknown assailants. Fighting escalated after the death of Sunni cleric Sheikh Khaled al Baradei, shot by a sniper during the morning skirmishes. Sheikh Baradei was reportedly a commander of the Sunni Islamist fighters, and his death led to further sectarian unrest within the city. Two journalists from an unknown news agency were also wounded during the day's fighting.[96]

Wissam al-Hassan assassination[edit]

On 19 October 2012, a car bomb killed eight people in the Beirut's neighbourhood of Achrafiyeh, including Brigadier General Wissam al-Hassan, chief of the Intelligence Bureau of the Internal Security Forces. 78 others were wounded in the bombing.[97] It was the largest attack in the capital since 2008.[98] The killing of a senior figure closely linked with the anti-Assad camp in Lebanon led to immediate speculation that Syria, or its allies, were behind the attack in Beirut. Al-Hassan had also led the investigation that implicated Syria and its ally Hezbollah in the killing of the former prime minister Rafik al-Hariri.[99] However, al-Hassan himself had also been a prime suspect during the Hariri investigation, and had close ties with Saudi intelligence, and was said to have ties to Mossad.[100]

The assassination triggered violent unrest throughout the country.[101] A host of Future TV called on a crowd to head toward the Grand Serail, and the protesters subsequently clashed with the police.[102] Sunni gunmen set up checkpoints, scrutinising the sectarian identify of passers by.[103]

Following Wissam al-Hassan's death, Saad Hariri and a number of other Lebanese political leaders from the anti-Assad March 14 Alliance directly accused the Syrians of being behind the attack,[104] while the Future Movement called on Prime Minister Najib Mikati to immediately resign, claiming his cabinet had shown incapability to maintain the country’s security.[105] Sheikh Abdul Razzaq al-Asmar of the Islamic Unification Movement was killed in Tripoli the same day, when pro-Hariri gunmen took control of Tripoli and clashed with IUM and SSNP members.[106]

On 21 October, violent clashes occurred throughout the country which were triggered by the assassination. Two young girls and a man were killed during clashes between Bab Tabbaneh and Jabal Mohsen.[107] The following night, pro-Hariri gunmen clashed with rivals in the Tariq al-Jadeedah neighbourhood of Beirut.[108] Two Sunnis and an Alawite were killed in Tripoli and 15 people were wounded on 22 October. In total, clashes from 19 to 23 October left 10 dead and 65 wounded.[109]

On 24 October, Future Movement protesters clashed with the Lebanese army.[110]

Sidon clash[edit]

On 11 November 2012, three people were killed and four others wounded after supporters of Salafi cleric Ahmed al-Assir clashed with supporters of Hezbollah in the southern city of Sidon.[111][112] Assir stated "We have a blood score to settle with Hizbullah that can only be settled with blood", and that he considered forming an "armed resistance group."[113]

Tall Kalakh incident[edit]

On 30 November 2012, between 14 and 20 Islamists from North Lebanon, as well a Palestinian, were killed in an ambush in Tall Kalakh near the Lebanese border. They had gone to Syria to fight alongside the Syrian rebels.[114]

On 2 December, Lebanese soldiers clashed with Syrian rebels near the Syrian border. There were no casualties.[115]

Renewed violence in Tripoli[edit]

December 2012 VOA report on the conflict in Tripoli

At least 12 people were killed and 73 injured in Tripoli between 4 and 6 December 2012, as Alawites and Sunnis were involved in heavy clashes, which were sparked by the Tall Kalakh incident.[116][117][118][119][120][121]

Second Sidon clash[edit]

On 3 January 2013, one person was killed and three hurt during clashes between the Popular Nasserite Organization and the Hezbollah-affiliated Resistance Brigades.[122] The following day, the body of a Palestinian man was found in Sidon by the army.[123]

Faisal Karami convoy attack[edit]

On 18 January 2013, Sports and Youth Minister Faisal Karami's convoy came under attack in Tripoli by protesters holding a sit-in which demanded the release of Islamists jailed for being members of the terrorist group Fatah al Islam. Five were injured.[124]

Arsal clash[edit]

On 1 February 2013, Lebanese Army soldiers clashed with Salafist militants in the village of Arsal in the Bekaa Valley near the Syrian border, when the army attempted to arrest a fundamentalist there. Two soldiers were killed and eight wounded. Subsequently, the fundamentalist brought their dead bodies to the town square and celebrated. Sunni fundamentalists in Lebanon have been strengthened by the presences of armed co-religionists in Syria.[125]

Continued Tripoli violence[edit]

At least one person was killed and four injured when clashes broke out again in the northern port city of Tripoli on 20 March 2013. The violence began with a shooting at a local hospital that left 3 people injured, including a Lebanese soldier and his brother, both of them from the mostly Alawite Jabal Mohseh neighborhood. Further clashes later in the evening left one dead and one injured, as gunmen exchanged fire with automatic weapons and rocket-propelled grenades. The Lebanese Army was deployed to Syria Street and managed to rescue six Alawites who were kidnapped on their way to Jabal Mohsen.[126]

On 19 and 20 May 2013, two civilians and two army soldiers were killed during renewed fighting between the neighbourhoods.[127] By 22 May, 12 people had been killed since renewed fighting began.[128] The Lebanese army pulled out of the city on 23 May, after being targeted.[129] Six more were killed the following night, as mortars were used for the first time.[130] 31 were killed by 26 May.[131] After two days of calm, six more were killed by 4 May within 24 hours. Jabal Mohsen was subsequently raided by the army, which ADP leader Rifa'at Eid questioned, since similar raids were not done against Bab al-Tabbaneh.[132]

Rocket attacks on Beirut and Hermel[edit]

May 2013 VOA report about the spillover

On 26 May 2013, two rockets hit an area of southern Beirut dominated by Hezbollah, injuring five people whilst another two rockets caused property damage to buildings in the city of Hermel in north Lebanon. Syrian rebels have been blamed for the attack as they had promised to attack Hezbollah targets in Lebanon in retaliation for their helping the Syrian army particularly in the border town of Al-Qusayr. Syrian rebels have also shelled al-Hermel previously.[133][134]

One rebel told Lebanon TV that "This is a warning to Hezbollah and the Lebanese government to keep Hezbollah's hands off Syria".[135] Salim Idriss of the FSA warned that there would be repercussions against Beirut, Tripoli and the Rafik Hariri International Airport, if the Lebanese government did not stop Hezbollah, yet denied FSA was behind the rocket attacks.[136]

Second Arsal attack[edit]

Gunmen attacked Lebanese soldiers at a military checkpoint in the Bekaa Valley, two soldiers were killed with a third dying in hospital. The gunmen then escaped across the border back into Syria.[137] Three suspects, a Syrian and two Lebanese, were subsequently arrested.[138]

Baalbek incidents[edit]

Over a dozen rockets and mortars were fired from Syria into the Baalbek region which is a Hezbollah stronghold. The rockets and mortars landed in largely empty field and resulted in no casualties. Rebels are suspected due to their being fired from rebel controlled areas.[139][140]

At least 12 Syrian rebels were reported to be killed in Ain al-Jawzeh in an ambush by Hezbollah on 2 June 2013.[141]

Three Syrian nationals were kidnapped by unknown assailants driving a black Cherokee vehicle in the Baalbek town of Sireen on 4 June 2013.[142]

Clashes in central Tripoli[edit]

On 6 June 2013, members of the pro-Syrian Syrian Social Nationalist Party clashed with Salafists in the markets of central Tripoli, which left one dead and seven wounded.[143]

On 9 June gunfire, rockets and shells were fired from the Syrian side of the border hitting several buildings in the Akkar area of Lebanon, inflicting damage but causing no casualties. Gunfire hit the Abboudieh-Menjez highway.[144] The Lebanese Army began to dismantle barricades and intensified its presence on Syria street, as fighting continued in central Tripoli, and nine people having been killed in jabal Mohsen and Bab al-Tabbaneh since the last week.[145]

Clash near the Iranian embassy[edit]

On 9 June 2013, one person was killed and 11 wounded after pro-Hezbollah gunmen opened fire on anti-Hezbollah protesters from the Lebanese Option Gathering. Men with handguns, and dressed in black with the yellow armbands of Hezbollah, were seen scuffling with a group who drew up in a bus. When the bus stopped outside the embassy, Hezbollah supporters attacked the vehicle with batons, smashing its windows. The gunmen then drew their weapons and fired. Several protesters, none of them armed, were injured. Lebanese security officials named the dead man as Hashem Salman of the March 14 Alliance affiliated Lebanese Option Gathering, a Shia political organisation that opposes Hezbollah.[146][147]

Arsal incidents[edit]

On 12 June 2013, a Syrian army helicopter has been reported as firing three rockets at the town of Arsal, which is largely Sunni. The town is 15 kilometers from the Syrian border with one rocket hitting the town center resulting in people being wounded.[148]

On 16 June, four Shiite men from nearby villages were killed while driving by Arsal. Two of the dead were members of the Jaafar clan.[149] Prime Minister-designate Tammam Salam called on residents of the Beqaa region to avoid strife.[150]

The Baalbeck International Festival has been forced to change its location due to fighting in Syria. During June 2013 alone 18 rockets and mortars has struck the town of Baalbeck. On 21 June, Lebanese troops forced open the Beirut-Baalbek highway a day after blocked off by pro-rebel Lebanese. They had blocked the highway after Shiite gunmen closed the road to Arsal.[151]

Battle of Sidon[edit]

In early June 2013, clashes broke out in an eastern suburb of Sidon between forces loyal to the Hezbollah critic and hard-line cleric Sheik Ahmad Al-Assir.[152] Lebanese army troops deployed in the area of the fighting.

On 23 June 2013, heavy street fighting erupted between the Lebanese Army and gunmen loyal to Al-Assir, with a clash at an Army checkpoint near the Abra complex that houses the Bilal bin Rabah Mosque.[153] Roads were later blocked in other parts of the country, and the army came under fire in the Ain el-Hilweh camp.

The next day, the Lebanese army has launched a crackdown on the pro-Assair militia attacking houses near his Mosque in Sidon from which Assair operates. At least four armored personnel carriers and several army vehicles were destroyed. Lebanese Army commandos seized a complex controlled by gunmen loyal to Sheikh Ahmad Assir. Assir reportedly fled the complex at around 10 a.m., shortly after the Army stormed the premises which the military gradually gained control over throughout the day. Ahmed al-Assir was still at large with the Army having orders to capture or kill him after he was accused of killing soldiers in "cold blood". 62 of his followers were arrested.[154][155]

Overall, at least 50 people died during the fighting.[156] 17–18 soldiers, 25–40 militants[157][158][159] and four Hezbollah fighters[158] were killed. Two civilians were killed,[160] including a bodyguard of a cleric, who tried to reach the fighting to negotiate a ceasefire.[161] 100–128 Lebanese soldiers, 60 pro-Assir militants, over 50 civilians and 15 Hezbollah fighters were wounded.[158][159]

July 2013 Beirut bombing[edit]

On 9 July 2013, a car bomb exploded in a Hezbollah stronghold suburb in south Beirut, injuring 53 people. The attack, on the first day of Ramadan, was seen as sectarian spillover from Syria between Sunni Muslims and Shia Muslims.[162][163]

Attack on Hezbollah convoy[edit]

On 16 July 2013, a convoy of Hezbollah was targeted near the Syrian border with bombing. The attack resulted in one Hezbollah member killed and three wounded.[164] An al-Qaeda linked group took responsibility.[165]

South Beirut terror plot[edit]

In July 2013, an anti-Syrian rebel al-Qaeda-affiliated organization's terror plot, which included the use up to 7 tonnes of explosives in a pair of huge truck bombings targeting Hezbollah-dominated southern Beirut suburbs, as well as suicide bomber attacks targeting a list of Hezbollah and Lebanese officials and diplomats from nations supporting the Syrian regime, was averted after detailed intelligence warnings from America's CIA were passed onto Lebanese security officials.[166][167][168]

August 2013 Beirut bombing[edit]

On 15 August 2013, a car bomb exploded in Beirut, Lebanon killing twenty seven people and injuring over two-hundred people. The Islamist group Aisha Umm-al Mouemeneen, also known as Brigades of Aisha, were responsible for the explosion. The car bomb was intended for the stronghold of Hezbollah.[169][170][171]

August 2013 Tripoli bombing[edit]

On 23 August 2013, twin bombings in Tripoli, Lebanon caused extensive damage with some 47 people killed and more than 500 wounded according to Lebanon's state-run National News Agency.[172]

November 2013 Arsal air attack[edit]

On 14 November 2013, two Syrian Arab Army helicopters crossed the border into Lebanon and fired a total of nine rockets in an attack on the residential suburbs of Arsal. Seven rockets hit and damaged residential structures while two hit empty roads. No casualties were reported. [173]

2013 Iranian embassy bombing[edit]

On 19 November 2013, twin suicide bombings detonated in front of the Iranian embassy in Beirut, Lebanon killing at least 23, and injuring more than 160. An al-Qaeda affiliate named the Abdullah Azzam Brigades claimed responsibility for the attack.

December 2013 Assassination of Hassan al-Laqqis[edit]

On 4 December 2013, senior military commander of Hezbollah Hassan al-Laqqis was assassinated in Southern Beirut when he was returning home from work after gunmen shot at him at close range with small caliber pistols equipped with silencers. A Lebanese Sunni rebel group calling themselves "Brigades of the Free Sunnis of Baalbak" claimed responsibility for the killing, labeling al-Laqqis as “the architect of the massacre of Qusayr”.[174] Some analysts claimed that his assassination meant that Hezbollah had lost their most senior operative who helped supply some of the most advanced military needs for them in their operations.[175]

December 22, 2013 clashes[edit]

On 23 December 2013, it was reported that at least 32 Nusra Front gunmen were killed in east Lebanon on December 22 ambush sprung by Hezbollah fighters, a senior Lebanese security source said to The Daily Star newspaper, adding that a member of the Lebanese group was also killed in ensuing fighting.[176] The event was one of the deadliest encounters between Syrian opposition (Nusra Front) and pro-Syrian Government forces (Hezbollah) within Lebanon since the beginning of the Syrian conflict.

December 2013 Assassination of Mohamad Chatah[edit]

At approximately 9:40am on 27 December 2013,[177] a car bomb struck the convoy of Mohamad Chatah, a former Lebanese minister of finance and ambassador to the United States,[178][179] in the Central District of Beirut, Lebanon.[180] The bombing killed a total of eight people, among them Chatah, and injured seventy others.[181] The bomb "was estimated to weigh more than 50 kilograms and was placed inside a stolen Honda car."[177] The attack has been described as a political assassination of Chatah.[182]

January 2, 2014 Bombing[edit]

On January 2, 2014 a car bomb exploded in the Haret Hreik district of Beirut, considered a Hezbollah stronghold. At least 5 were killed in the bombing, which occurred outside a building used by Hezbollah's Al-Manar TV station and near office buildings used by the party.[183]

January 16, 2014 Hermel Bombing[edit]

On January 16, 2014 a suspected suicide bomber detonated a car bomb in the predominantly Shia Hezbollah stronghold of Hermel. At least 3 people were killed, including the suicide bomber, and 26 injured in the blast.[184]

January 17, 2014 rocket attack[edit]

On January 17, 2014, a day after a car bombing, rockets hit Hermel, causing no injuries. Another rocket attack hit Arsal, killing seven people and wounding 15.[185]

February 20, 2014 Tripoli assassination[edit]

On February 20, 2014, Abdul Rahman Diab, an Arab Democratic Party official, was gunned down in his car in Tripoli.[186]

March 2014 clashes[edit]

During the month of March, fighting between factions increased exponentially, [187]

On March 23, one was killed in clashes between Salafists and the Arab Movement Party, a pro-Assad Sunni Muslim group.[188][189]

Deaths and injuries[edit]

In the unrest of June 2011, at least 7 deaths were reported.[14] A further 2-3 deaths occurred during the incidents of February 2012.[190]

Since May 2012, violent political incidents have resulted in at least 422-438 fatalities and 2,271 injuries;

  • 12–18 May 2012: 12 people were killed and 100 others wounded in clashes between the Bab al-Tabbaneh and Jabal Mohsen neighborhoods in Tripoli.[39]
  • 20 May 2012: A Lebanese Sunni cleric was killed along with his aid in Akkar, north Lebanon, while 3 were killed and 8 were wounded in Beirut's Tariq Jdideh neighbourhood.[47]
  • 28 May 2012: One person was killed in Batroun.[191]
  • 30 May 2012: Two people were wounded in Tripoli.[62]
  • Early June: Two Hezbollah fighters were killed in a clash with Syrian rebels.[73]
  • 2–3 June 2012: 15 people were killed and over 60 others were wounded in Tripoli.[63][64][65][66]
  • 8 June 2012: One person was killed and three others were wounded in Tripoli.[192]
  • 16 June 2012: One person was killed and either others were wounded in the Nahr al-Bared Palestinian refugee camp.[citation needed]
  • 18 June 2012: Three people were killed and 15 others were wounded in clashes between Palestinians and the Lebanese Army.[citation needed]
  • 18 July 2012: One person was killed and several wounded in Tripoli during anti-Assad celebrations.[70][71]
  • 27 July 2012: Two people were killed and 15 others were wounded in Tripoli.[193][194]
  • 8 August 2012: Five people were wounded in clashes in Siddon between supporters and detractors of the Syrian government.[citation needed]
  • 9 August 2012: Three people were killed and 10 others were wounded in clashes in north Lebanon between Sunni supporters of Hezbollah and Salafists.[92]
  • 20–24 August 2012: 17 people were killed and more than 120 others were wounded in clashes in Tripoli.[195][196]
  • 19 October 2012: Brigadier General Wissam al-Hassan, chief of the Intelligence Bureau of the Internal Security Forces, was killed along with two other people in a car-bomb explosion in Beirut. 78 other people were wounded. The Syrian Government was blamed for the attack.[197][198]
  • 19–23 October 2012: 13 people were killed[199] and 65 others were wounded in clashes in Tripoli,[200] that were caused by the bombing.[201]
  • 11 November 2012: Three people were killed and four others were wounded in between supporters of Hizbullah and Salafist cleric Sheikh Ahmed al-Asir in Sidon.[202]
  • 4–9 December 2012: 19 people were killed and more than 140 others were wounded in clashes in Tripoli.[203][204]
  • 3 January 2013: One person was killed and three hurt during clashes in Sidon.[122]
  • 1 February 2013: 3 people were killed during clashes in Ersal[205]
  • 20–24 March 2013: Twelve people have been killed and at least thirty wounded in fighting in Lebanon's second city Tripoli.[206][207]
  • 3 April 2013: One person was lightly wounded in Tripoli when Pro-FSA gunmen opened fire on a convoy of tanker trucks believed to be carrying fuel meant to supply the Syrian government.[208]
  • 13 April 2013: One Syrian woman was wounded when gunmen fired gunshots at a car at the Masnaa border crossing with Syria,. Some Lebanese media where unable to identify the perpetrators, but anti-Syrian channels accused Hezbollah.[209]
  • 14 April 2013-Ongoing: Three people have been killed and eight injured by the ongoing shelling of the Hermel region.[210][211][212]
  • 14 May 2013: Five people were killed and 20 injured during clashes in Tripoli.[213]
  • 19–26 May 2013: At least 31 people have been killed[214] and 204 injured during clashes in Tripoli.[215] Three soldiers were among the dead[216] and 15 were wounded.[217][218]
  • 26 May 2013: Two rockets landed in Southern Beirut on 26 May, injuring five people. The Lebanese government believes the attacks were an "act of sabotage". The assailants who fired these rockets are unknown.[219]
  • 28 May 2013: Three Lebanese soldiers were killed by unknown gunmen in an ambush east of Arsal.[220]
  • 30 May 2013: Fighting between Amal supporters and Palestinian gunmen erupted in the Farhat neighborhood of Beirut’s southern suburbs, casualties unknown.[221]
  • 2 June 2013: A clash between FSA and Hezbollah fighters in the Bekaa Valley reportedly led to the deaths of one Hezbollah fighter and fifteen FSA fighters, according to Lebanese security sources.[222]
  • 3–4 June 2013: The attempted assassination of two pro-Hezbollah Sunni leaders in Lebanon triggered a fresh round of clashes in Tripoli. Eight people were killed, including a policeman,[223] and at least 70 were injured.[224][225] An additional five members of the Lebanese Army and ISF were injured when the vehicle they were riding in was ambushed by gunmen in Tripoli’s Al-Malloula.[226]
  • 5 June 2013: 11 rockets fired from the anti-Lebanon mountain range along the border with Syria landed in Baalbek, damaging various locations around the city. At least five people were injured in the barrage.[227]
  • 6–7 June 2013: One person was killed and nine were injured,[228] two of them Lebanese Army soldiers, during clashes in Tripoli.[229] Meanwhile in Arsal on 6 June, unknown militants returned to attack the LAF checkpoint previously attacked on 28 May. The attack was repelled by the Army troops, and two militants were killed.[230]
  • 10–11 June 2013: One man was killed on 10 June in Hermel when the pickup truck he was driving was fired on by unknown gunmen. The driver was transporting Syrian refugees between Hermel and Akkar.[231] The next day, 10 rockets were fired from Syria into Hermel, killing one and wounding several others.[232]
  • 23–25 June 2013: Heavy street fighting erupted between the Lebanese Army and gunmen loyal to Salafist preacher Ahmed Al-Assir in Sidon. Overall, at least 50 people died during the fighting.[156] 17–18 soldiers, 25–40 militants[157][158][159] and four Hezbollah fighters[158] were killed. Two civilians were killed,[160] including a bodyguard of a cleric, who tried to reach the fighting to negotiate a ceasefire.[161] 100–128 Lebanese soldiers, 60 pro-Assir militants, over 50 civilians and 15 Hezbollah fighters were wounded.[158][159]
  • 27 June 2013: 25 Syrians were traveling in a mini-bus through Beirut neighbourhood of Jisr Al-Wati when they were attacked by 8 men armed with knives who injured 20 of the Syrians.[233]
  • 9 July 2013: a car bomb exploded in south Beirut injured 53 people.
  • 15 August 2013: A car bomb exploded in a part of Hezbollah controlled Beirut killing 27 and wounding 226.[234]
  • 22 August 2013: Gunmen opened fire on pro Hezbollah supporters killing three in Tripoli.[235]
  • 23 August 2013: Twin car bombs exploded in front of two Sunni mosques killing at least 47 and wounding over 500.[236]
  • 20–28 October 2013: 17 people were killed and 100 wounded during clashes in Tripoli.[237]
  • 24 October 2013: Two Syrian gunmen were killed by the Lebanese Army in the eastern Bekaa valley after they refused to halt their vehicle.[238]
  • 30 November–2 December 2013: 13 people were killed,[239] including one soldier,[240] and over 80 wounded,[239] including 10 soldiers and one policeman, during clashes in Tripoli.[240] Also, one person was killed and several were wounded in fighting in Lebanon's largest Palestinian refugee camp, Ain el Hilweh.[241]
  • 21 December 2013: 32 Syrian jihadists were killed after they were ambushed by Hezbollah in Wadi al-Jamala while infiltrating Lebanon from Syria.[242]
  • 27 December 2013: A car bomb exploded in the Beirut Central District killing at least five people, including the former Lebanese ambassador to the U.S. Mohamad Chatah, and wounding 71 others.[243]
  • 14–24 March 2014: 30 people were killed[244] and 175 wounded,[245] including 17 soldiers, during clashes in Tripoli.[246]
  • 16 March 2014: Four people, including two Hezbollah members, were killed[247] and at least 14 were wounded by a suicide car bomb in the Bekaa Valley, near the Syrian border.[248]
  • 27 March 2014: A soldier was killed in Tripoli, while a militant was killed near the border with Syria.[249]
  • 29 March 2014: Three soldiers were killed and four wounded in a suicide bomb attack on their checkpoint near Arsal, on the Syrian border.[250]

Reactions[edit]

On 22 May, Hezbollah deputy leader Sheikh Naim Qassem condoled Sunni Grand Mufti Mohammed Rashid Qabbani over the killings, and relayed the condolences of Hassan Nasrallah.[251] The same day, Shadi Mawlawi, the Islamist whose arrest sparked the clashes in Tripoli, was released from custody, but Islamist protesters did not stop their sit-in protests, since they wanted 123 other Islamists freed as well.[252] The Future Movement called for Mikati to immediately resign, claiming his cabinet had shown incapability to maintain the country’s security.[253] Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea accused Hezbollah of training and arming groups in Tripoli.[39]

In August, Prime Minister Najib Miqati, a native of Tripoli, issued a statement saying that "efforts to drag Lebanon more and more into the conflict in Syria when what is required is for leaders to cooperate...to protect Lebanon from the danger" and urged the international community to help prevent Lebanon from being another theater in the Syrian civil war.[254] He added: "The cabinet work is not a priority compared to what the country is witnessing when it comes to exposure to the Syrian crisis and attempts to transfer it to Lebanon. The country is in great danger."[255]

An Nahar cited unnamed "western diplomatic sources" as stating that these incidents were the beginning of a Salafist revolution aimed at arming the uprising in Syria.[256] Salafists in Lebanon have often voiced their support for the uprising in Syria.[257] The March 14 alliance also accused the Syrian government of trying to drag Lebanon into its crisis. The Future Movement's former MP Mustafa Alloush said after regular weekly meeting: "It is actually an attempt to make of Tripoli a zone of terrorism. It also aims at striking Lebanon's northern area which has welcomed and helped out the Syrian displaced."[38] Calls by Rifaat Eid, the head of the Arab Democratic Party, for a return of the Syrian army to Tripoli to impose security in the city were rejected by Prime Minister Najib Mikati.[258]

Domestic political reactions[edit]

The Syrian Civil War and its domestic impact have furthered the polarisation of Lebanese politics. The March 14 Alliance, dominated by Christian- and Sunni-based parties, is broadly sympathetic to the Syrian opposition to Bashar Al-Assad. In August, youth members of 14 March parties including Kataeb, Lebanese Forces, National Liberal Party, Future Movement and Islamic Group held a rally to demand the expulsion of the Syrian Ambassador.[259] 8 March parties generally supported the continuation of the Assad regime, but analysts believe some groups within the coalition may seek new alliances if the Assad regime falls.[260] More moderate members of the coalition in government have began distancing themselves from the Assad regime.[261]

Previously allied with Assad, the Progressive Socialist Party of Walid Jumblatt have taken an anti-Assad stance.[262][263]

As of 13 February 2013, more than 182, 938 Syrian refugees are in Lebanon.[264] As the number of Syrian refugees increases, the Lebanese Forces Party, the Kataeb Party, and the Free Patriotic Movement fear the country’s sectarian based political system is being undermined.[265] Other parties, such as the mostly Shia Lebanese Option Gathering and the mostly Sunni Najjadeh Party[266] have also taken stances close to 14 March, including calling cancellation of agreements between the two countries.

International[edit]

2012 VOA report on the US reaction to the conflict
  • United Nations United Nations

On 21 May, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon appealed for calm after the clashes.[267]

On 22 August, Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs Jeffrey Feltman, in a meeting of the Security Council, described the situation as "precarious" and warned that a deteriorating situation in Syria could destabilise Lebanon.[95][268]

  •  Russia

On 23 May, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said there was a real threat of conflict spilling over from Syria and that it could have a very bad ending.[269]

  •  Saudi Arabia

On 23 May, King Abdullah wrote to Lebanese President Michel Sleiman expressing concern over the recent violence in Tripoli, especially the sectarian nature of the violence.[270]

  •  United States

On 25 May, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called for restraint and said the U.S. was concerned the unrest in Syria would contribute instability in Lebanon.[271] In May, Ambassador Maura Connelly met with Lebanese Prime Minister Najib Mikati to express her concern with the security situation in Tripoli and commended the government's efforts to defuse the situation.[272]

See also[edit]


References[edit]

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