Information Date: June 23 2013
Event Date: June 23 2013
Information Item: Clashes in Sidon, Lebanon
Information Platform: Various
Source Reliability: Reliable
Spring: Local Sources in Sidon
Spring Reliability: Reliable
Information Validity: Confirmed
Relevant Information: On June 18 armed clashes broke out in the area of Abra in the city of Sidon – the biggest city in southern Lebanon.
Reportedly, the factors involved in the fighting are supporters of Sunni Preacher Sheikh Ahmed Al-Assir on the one hand, and militants affiliated with the Lebanese Shiite organization, Hezbollah, on the other hand.
Sheikh Ahmed Al-Assir is a Sunni preacher known for his tough line criticizing Hezbollah. Following the involvement of Hezbollah in the war in Syria, and mostly following the recent occupation of the Syrian city of Al-Qusayr by Hezbollah, Al-Assir has escalated and intensified his anti-Hezbollah rhetoric calling upon the Sunnis to arm themselves.
Following the recent escalation in Abra the Lebanese army rushed military reinforcements into the city of Sidon.
Reportedly, the Lebanese army is now also involved in clashes with Al-Assir’s group in the area of Abra – which is also, by the way, Al-Assir’s stronghold.
Earlier today, Al-Assir urged Lebanese Sunnis to come to his aid. He also called upon Lebanese Sunni soldiers to defect from the Lebanese army and to join him in the fight against Hezbollah.
As the clashes continue, reports indicate that Salafi-Jihadist groups in the Ain al-Hilweh Palestinian refugee camp located on the outskirts of Sidon announced a state of alert, deploying their militants throughout the camp. Unconfirmed reports indicate that Salafi-Jihadist groups have fired on Lebanese army checkpoints deployed in the area of the refugee camp.
Confirmed reports indicate that militants this morning blocked – for a short period of time – the highway connecting Sidon with Beirut, the Capitol of Lebanon.
The Assessment: In many of my previous bulletins, reports and articles I have anticipated the scenario of a Sunni-Shiite confrontation in Lebanon and the percolation of the war into Syria’s neighboring states (as of now Lebanon and Iraq). The outbreak of violence in the area of Sidon indicates that this scenario is becoming more and more realistic. The continuation and possible escalation of the current clashes in the area of Sidon – together with the increasing incidents of Sunni-Shiite violence in other parts of Lebanon – bring Lebanon one step closer to an inner eruption of massive violence.
End Intelligence Bulletin