27/10/2014 – Today is the third day of fighting between the Lebanese forces and the Syrian Jihadists inside the Lebanese city of Tripoli and its suburban areas. The shots broke out Friday night when news was out in Tripoli that  an IS member, Ahmand Salim Mikati, had been arrested by the Army during clashes taking place in the region of Dinnieh.
According to the Daily Star, the clashes began in the old Souk of Tripoli where some armed militants were hiding out inside the narrow alleys which armoured vehicles were unable to access.
Always according to the Lebanese newspaper, a high rank army official has declared that the army would intensify the “preventive attacks” against the terrorist groups after the attack on the Dinnieh region that took place last Thursday, clashes which led to the arrest of Mikati and the killing of three terrorist suspects. The official, whose name was not disclosed by the well read newspaper, said that the raid of Dinnieh “Was  an important step in the ongoing battle waged by the army against terrorism.” He added that the Army was determined to crush forms of terrorism which were menacing the nation.

After his arrest, Mikati confessed he was a member of IS, and also admitted during interrogation that he had planned to kidnap some members of the military to put some pressure on the government to accept an exchange of prisoners concerning the 27 soldiers and a policeman who were IS hostages at the time.

On Thursday, the Army issued a statement describing 46 year old Mikati as being one of the most important protagonists of the Islamic State presence in North Lebanon. The statement also said that Mikati was planning a major terrorist action with the help of his son Omar who is now fighting with the IS in the suburbs of the northeastern city of Arsal. Mikati has also been accused of recruiting young Lebanese men into the ranks of the Islamic State in the area of Qalamoun. According to the Army statements, Bilal Mikati, who is a nephew of Ahmad Salim,  took part in the decapitation of  Sargeant Ali Sayyed, who had been taken as a hostage together with other soldiers and policemen by the IS and the Al Nusra Front in Arsal last August.

In the course of the last three days of fighting between the Lebanese troups and the IS militants the victims have risen to 27, out of which at least 6 were civilians and 10 were Lebanese soldiers. At least another 48 people were wounded, of which 26 are civilians and 22 soldiers.

From the onset of the civil war in Syria, the city of Tripoli and the neighbouring areas have often been attacked by Sunnis who are siding up with the Syrian rebellian and the Alawites (Shia) which are favourable to the Assad Règime, but it is the first time that the centre of the city has become the scenario of such major clashes.

The problem underlying ongoing religious and power conflicts in the Cedar-Tree Nation has been simmerring for a long time and has never  been squarely adressed. However, while it is necessary to tackle this problem at its very root, it is also immediately necessary to enforce security measures to stem the new wave of violence. The Army has tried to enforce security measures within the city, but are facing many obstacles, mainly connected with sectarian issues present within the country itself as well as for political and logistical reasons. On the other hand, the religious and political leaders of all the groups present need to really try and work side by side in the fight on terrorism, and thus take advantage of the great international support they are receiving at present.

Translated from Italian by Franscesca Piatti