Syrian officers take hand in North Lebanese clashes – against Hizballah

A ceasefire was scheduled to go into force in the northern Lebanese port of Tripoli Friday evening, July 25, after fierce sectarian clashes left six dead and 33 injured, most caught in crossfire. The figure rose to nine after a night of heavy fighting.
debkafile‘s military sources report that rocket-propelled grenade and sniper fire was exchanged all day between two districts, the largely Alawite Baal Mohsen and the Sunni Bab Tabbaneh.
The Alawites, who dominate the Assad regime in Syria, fought under Syrian military intelligence officers in civilian garb with weapons supplied from Damascus. The anti-Syrian Sunnis are armed by the Lebanese majority bloc led by Saad Hariri. The clashes have been going back and forth for two months with neither side prevailing.
A Syrian official, Dr. Riyad Daud, legal adviser at the foreign ministry in Damascus recently advised US and Israel to watch Tripoli to understand recent trends. Our sources report he was indicating the Tripoli battle as a landmark because there Syrian officers have ordered the Alawite fighters to drive Hizballah militiamen out of their district.
Damascus is seen as drawing the line against the spread of Hizballah and Iranian influence from Beirut to northern Lebanon, a region it views as exclusive Syrian turf. The Syrians are at the same time working closely with Iran and Hizballah in central and southern Lebanon opposite Israel and the US Sixth Fleet which patrols the eastern Mediterranean.
debkafile‘s Middle East sources add that the political situation in Beirut remains precarious. The national unity cabinet failed Thursday to agree on a policy agenda for a parliamentary vote of confidence to approve the new government line-up. It also postponed deliberations on the issue of Hizballah’s disarmament.

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