Lebanon hostage crisis prompts backlash against Syrian refugees

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Funeral of Lebanese soldier  Al Sayyed who was recently beheaded by the Islamic State
Funeral of Lebanese soldier Ali al Sayyed who was recently beheaded by the Islamic State. The kidnaping and murder of Lebanese security forces by jihadists from Syria has sparked new tensions in Lebanon, including a backlash against Syrian refugees and a string of sectarian kidnappings.

The kidnaping and murder of Lebanese security forces by jihadists from Syria has sparked new tensions in Lebanon, including a backlash against Syrian refugees and a string of sectarian kidnappings.

Relatives of the missing soldiers and policemen, who were kidnapped during fierce clashes in the Lebanese border town of Arsal last month, have blocked roads in protest and even carried out counter-kidnaps.

On Monday, a security source said two people from majority Sunni Arsal had been kidnapped by the family of soldier Ali al-Masri.

One of the negotiators involved in the talks aimed at solving the hostage crisis confirmed the report: “The family is asking the people of Arsal to pressure the [jihadist] kidnappers to release their son, and it insists it will not release its hostages until [the soldiers] are free.”

Elsewhere in the majority Shiite Beqaa valley, tit-for-tat kidnappings took place on Monday, according to security sources, who said the army is trying to resolve the spiraling crisis.

The incidents follow confirmation that a second Lebanese soldier being held by jihadists from the Islamic State (IS) has been beheaded.

The hostage crisis and beheadings have inflamed tensions in Lebanon, which is hosting more than 1.1 million Syrian refugees, and where tensions were already soaring over the four-year conflict in Syria.

The crisis has prompted a backlash against Syrian refugees in parts of Lebanon, with tents in informal camps being set alight and hundreds of Syrians sheltered in the Beqaa valley fleeing for fear of attack.

The Syrian conflict has exacerbated existing sectarian tensions in Lebanon, where most Sunni residents back the Syrian uprising and Shiites generally support Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad.

The August fighting in Arsal was the most serious border incident in Lebanon since the Syrian war began next door in March 2011.

With the ensuing hostage crisis unresolved to date despite ongoing Qatari mediation, reports of the soldier’s beheading first emerged on Saturday, prompting angry Lebanese to cut roads with burning tires in protest.

The official National News Agency meanwhile reported that refugees in several camps across the country – especially those in Shiite areas whose residents support Assad ally Hezbollah – had been told to evacuate their tents.

An AFP journalist in the eastern Beqaa valley saw Syrian refugees dismantle their tents and leave in their thousands for northern Lebanon, the west of the Beqaa and Beirut.

– Beatings –

Incidents of violence targeting Syrians have also been reported.

George Ghattas, a farmer from the village of Taybeh in the Beqaa valley, told AFP he saw a group of men attacking the Syrian guard of an unfinished construction site.

“The man then fled,” Ghattas said.

In southern Lebanon, Syrian refugees hosted in some 100 tents near the city of Tyre were given 48 hours to evacuate their camp.

“We don’t want to have terror cells developing in big camps,” Burj al-Shimali mayor Ali Deeb told AFP on Monday. “We have given the Syrians living in the camp 48 hours to leave.”

And in Beirut, a witness who spoke to AFP on condition of anonymity said he saw a group of some five young men surround and beat a Syrian man in his early twenties, after they discovered where he was from.

“They started shouting: ‘Are you Syrian or not?’” the witness said, adding that “five or six of the guys started beating him, taking turns to hit him.”

Amid the rise in tensions, the authorities have appealed for calm, calling on the Lebanese to refrain from revenge attacks.

“The Syrian refugees are our family, they asked for our help, so we assisted them,” said Prime Minister Tammam Salam in a televised speech.

Expressing “feelings of sadness and grief” for the suffering of the families of the kidnapped soldiers, Salam said that “what has been happening on the streets in the past few days damages the memory of the martyrs… while plunging the country into deep danger.”

But in spite of the appeal, there was little sign the tensions could be immediately dispelled.

Speaking to AFP, Human Rights Watch researcher Lama Fakih confirmed the spike in violence: “We have seen a string of retaliatory measures against Syrian refugees in Lebanon taken by individuals and municipalities.”

“This is happening countrywide,” Fakih said.
NOW/AFP

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6 responses to “Lebanon hostage crisis prompts backlash against Syrian refugees”

  1. Reasonableman Avatar
    Reasonableman

    Can’t fight the killers so they release their anger on innocent visitors to lebanon and light up their tents.

    Ya mashnouk this isn’t what you are paid for, bribing the lebanese and dealing with the terrorist hezbos.

    ya kahwaji where are your soldiers? Why are they in tripoli and not in bekka and dahye to protect these lives? Where is saqr saqr to issue arrest warrants for the clans of vice?

    Ya hariri where is this 1billion dollars going to and why does it take so long to equip the army, must lebanon wait until the region is quiet before anything happens?

    Ya hassan plasma why the ethnic cleansing on the sunnis if your so called resistance is for “lebanon” which is for all religions?

    1. 5thDrawer Avatar

      Need more tyres to burn and fill the air with the carinogens that have already damaged the brains.
      On a street in Tripoli yesterday there was was a car accident … Hospital took away injured, left the dead bodies. I hear those are still there. I guess there wasn’t enough cash in pockets for a ‘disposal unit’.
      I’m going to suggest another two-week-old body gets added to the pile.

      1. Reasonableman Avatar
        Reasonableman

        If I ever died in lebanon I request to be thrown in the sea via boat. Only costs 10 000 lira to go and come back from al mina tripoli.

        1. 5thDrawer Avatar

          ?? REALLY ??? No-one mentioned This option … although I had contemplated telling the girls to drag it to the beach. Will get back to you …..
          NAVY WAY.

    2. What else you expect from the khawarijis, the lovely Infallibles? You think they care about people of any religion leave alone the Sunnis!?
      Remember what harakat amal which later became hezbusatan did not that long ago to Palestinian Sunnis!?
      The Sunnis are so naive, helpless, and merciful that they easily forgot the atrocities of past, forgetting the atrocities of present, and will forget the atrocities that will be unleashed on them in future!!!
      Lebanon is for everyone and not just for only them!!!
      Wish someday not just the beautiful Lebanon but the World and it’s people irrespective of religion, color, race, creed, region, language, etc. live in peace without any fear, wars, hate, evils like Isis, hezbusatan, boko haram, etc.!!!

  2. 5thDrawer Avatar

    See Dailly Star …. Someone finally listened after over 3 years.
    (maybe the one who stole the friend’s apartment in Tripoli will move out … they need it)

    “BEIRUT: Lebanon has decided to set up two camps for Syrian refugees for the first time along its border with war-torn Syria, Social Affairs Minister Rashid Derbas told AFP on Thursday.
    Read more: http://www.dailystar.com.lb/News/Lebanon-News/2014/Sep-11/270357-lebanon-to-open-first-syria-refugee-camps-minister.ashx#ixzz3D1D178Lu

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