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Lebanese interior minister calls for ending "tragic" clashes in Tripoli


09:16, June 05, 2013

BEIRUT, June 4 (Xinhua) -- Lebanon's caretaker Interior Minister Marwan Charbel on Tuesday called for ending the "tragic" clashes in the northern port city of Tripoli.

Before chairing a meeting of the Central Security Council, Charbel told reporters that the majority of fighters in Tripoli are no longer following the orders of their leaders. "Most of the gunmen in Tripoli are acting on their own and have gone out of the politicians' willingness to end strife," he said.

"We can hit the gunmen with an iron fist and this issue has been discussed by the Higher Defense Council. But we can't target Tripoli. The army and security forces are acting wisely," he said, adding that he saw no purpose behind the clashes.

Five people have been killed since the renewed clashes between the rival neighborhoods of Alawite Jabal Mohsen and Sunni Bab al- Tabbaneh in Tripoli erupted on Sunday. The former backs Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, while the latter are opponents of the Syrian administration.

For the first time last month, the two neighborhoods lobbed mortar shells and fired heavy machine guns at each other.

"Unfortunately, if you want to know what's happening in Tripoli, then you should know what's going on in Syria," Charbel said, referring to the spillover of the over-two-year-old Syrian crisis.

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