Commenting on the security situation in Tripoli Justice Minister Ashraf Rifi said Sunday: ” I heard that some considered what is happening now in Tripoli, and some areas of the north as a war on the Sunni people. I totally disagree with such statements and reject them in form and content .”
He added :
“The historical choice of the Sunnis people has always been and will always remain the state of Lebanon and its institutions and co-existence . We the Sunni people paid the highest price for standing with the state , starting with the assassination of Mufti Sheikh Hassan Khaled to the assassination of the prime minister Rafik Hariri and other martyrs and this stance will continue with Prime Minister Saad Hariri.”
“We will not respond to the mini-state, which is contributing to a civil war in Lebanon and the region, with a similar mini-state,” the former Internal Security Forces chief said, accusing Hezbollah of continuously trying to involve the Army in internal battles.
Rifi stressed that the Army offensive against militants in north Lebanon is not a war against Sunnis, but Hezbollah is trying to exploit the security situation to stir sectarian strike.
“Although we have a feeling that someone is hiding behind institutions to push for strife, and we condemn this, we will not contribute to it by letting them achieve their goal of undermining the state and its institutions,” Rifi said in another reference to the Army Command and Hezbollah.
Rifi has accused the Army command of being strongly influenced by Hezbollah.
Rifi also called on residents of north Lebanon to avoid recklessness and to put their trust in the Future Movement ( which is headed by former PM Saad Hariri) .
Rifi’s statement came amid fierce clashes between Army and jihadists in north Lebanon.
The death toll from three days of fighting between the Lebanese army and Sunni militants, who are thought to be linked to Islamic State rose to 18 . Many of the wounded are civilians but since the fighting is still raging they could not be taken to nearby hospitals for treatment
The spillover of the Syrian conflict has led to a surge in sectarian tension in Tripoli.
The latest violence was sparked after Lebanese troops killed three militants and detained a local leader in a raid in the north of the city on Friday.
Emergency meeting of Tripoli MPs
All Tripoli MPs met Sunday at the residence of MP Mohammed Kabbara to address the violence in the city. Rifi and a delegation from the Muslim Scholars Committee took part in the emergency meeting. After the meeting Kabbara said:
” The city will remain within the authority of the state and it rejects terrorism and we voice our support to the government’s security plan in the city that was adopted earlier this year.”
He condemnded the assault against the army and added:
“We demand that equality in implementing justice be adopted throughout Lebanon.”
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