After two days of heavy gunfire, the streets are now silent in Tripoli, Lebanon’s second-largest city.
Lebanon’s army and Islamist fighters linked to Syrian rebels, the Jabhat al Nusra (Al Nusra Front), Al Qaeda and the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) terror groups have ceased fighting.
But not until after they had claimed the lives of 11 soldiers and eight civilians.
The two-day battle was the worst Syrian-linked violence in Lebanon since the summer, when Islamist fighters linked to the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) terrorist group, and Jabhat al Nusra (Al Nusra Front) invaded the Lebanese border town of Arsal.
The Syrian “rebels” – actually foreign terrorists, for the most part – took 20 Lebanese soldiers captive in that raid. Three have since been executed.
The mostly Sunni Muslim city has seen numerous battles – overflow from the civil war raging in Syria – over the past three-plus years.
Israel has seen overflow from that war as well, with some of the shelling and missile fire directed into the Golan Heights. Occasionally it becomes unclear who is firing what at whom; on those occasions, the IDF fires back at the source, and the silence on Israel’s northern border returns.
Due to the sectarian nature of the Middle East, Lebanon has had its share of instability. Sunni Muslims have for the most part lined up behind the Syrian rebels, who are themselves a divided group, some having broken away to become jihadists and others having remained moderate.
Shi’ite Lebanese have supported the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, along with the Hezbollah terrorist organization. Both are generously patronized by Iran. Russia has also been an eager participant, supporting Assad with weapons as well.
Since February, Lebanon has been a country without a president. That is when the term of former President Michel Suleiman expired – and none has been elected to take his place.
For now, the army has managed to clear nearly all the positions held by the Islamist gunmen, according to Sunni politician Samir Jisr, who spoke with international media. Almost. There are still a few positions left to clear around the city.