Last remaining seats to the Jpost 2017 Annual Conference! Get your special offer now

12 Lebanese soldiers killed in clashes with Sunnis

ByREUTERS
June 24, 2013 11:55

Fighting broke out in southern city of Sidon after security forces detained follower of hardline Sunni Muslim cleric.

Lebanese soldiers (file)

Lebanese soldiers 370. (photo credit:REUTERS)

Lebanese soldiers fought Sunni Muslim gunmen in the southern city of Sidon on Monday in one of the deadliest outbreaks of violence fueled by sectarian divisions over the civil war in neighboring Syria.

The army said 12 soldiers had been killed in clashes which broke out on Sunday after security forces detained a follower of the hardline Sunni Muslim cleric Sheikh Ahmed al-Assir. His supporters retaliated by opening fire on an army checkpoint.



Be the first to know - Join our Facebook page.



Security sources put the army death toll at 15, with 60 wounded. They said at least two gunmen were also killed in the clashes but soldiers were surrounding the mosque where Assir's supporters were based, making it difficult to verify details.

The mosque showed signs of heavy damage from 24 hours of ferocious exchanges of rocket and gunfire.

Sidon had been on edge since violence erupted last week between Sunni and Shi'ite Muslim fighters, at odds over the Syrian conflict which pits mainly Sunni rebels against President Bashar Assad, an Alawite from an offshoot of Shi'ite Islam.

Tensions escalated further when the Lebanese Shi'ite militant group Hezbollah sent fighters into Syria to lead the recapture of a strategic border town by Assad's forces.

"The army has tried for months to keep Lebanon away from the problems of Syria, and it ignored repeated requests for it to clamp down on Sheikh Ahmed al-Assir's group," the military command said in a statement on Sunday.

"But what has happened today has gone beyond all expectations. The army was attacked in cold blood in an attempt to light the fuse in Sidon, just as was done in 1975," it said, referring to the year that Lebanon's own civil war began.

Assir, whose supporters accuse the army of giving cover to Hezbollah gunmen, called for people across the country to join him and demanded that "honorable" soldiers defect.
Relevant to your professional network? Please share on Linkedin

Tags:
  • Israel news
  • Lebanon
  • Share this article via
    from around the web
    Related Content
    Pope Francis waves as he leaves for his pastoral trip to Egypt at the Leonardo da Vinci-Fiumicino Ai
    April 29, 2017
    Pope, at Cairo Mass, urges unity against fanaticism

    By REUTERS

    Top Stories
    Israel Weather
    • 13 - 34
      Beer Sheva
      16 - 25
      Tel Aviv - Yafo
    • 16 - 29
      Jerusalem
      15 - 27
      Haifa
    • 21 - 32
      Elat
      19 - 34
      Tiberias