Saturday, May 10, 2008

Syria steps in to back Hizballah’s conquest of Beirut districts

From DEBKAfile, May 9, 2008, 6:19 PM (GMT+02:00):

At least 11 people were killed Friday, May 9, Day 3 of fierce clashes between Hizballah and pro-government forces, the worst since the 1975-90 civil war. At noon, Syrian Social Nationalist Party’s units entered Beirut to support Hizballah’s advancing occupation of Sunni West Beirut districts.

DEBKAfile’s Middle East sources report that Thursday night, army chief Gen. Michel Suleiman refused to obey prime minister Fouad Siniora’s order to declare a state of emergency for the crisis created by Hizballah’s declaration of war against the government. The general warned that if the government enacted an emergency, he would order the troops to return to barracks....

....Hizballah and fellow Shiite Amal fighters were thus able to seize control of most of pro-government Sunni West Beirut in clashes that have spread to other parts of the Lebanon while the government was left unprotected.

The urban warfare shut down Lebanon's port and all but closed the international airport, with burning barricades on major highways in Beirut....

...Hizballah’s leader Hassan Nasrallah warned Thursday night that the only way to stop the violence was for the “black gang” ruling the government to withdraw its decisions to close his military telecommunications network and restore Hizballah loyalists to key positions at Beirut international airport.

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