السبت , يونيو 13 2020

Lebanon 'arrests' militant cleric

Sheikh Ahmad al-Assir, addresses his supporters during a demonstration in Beirut, October 2012.

Sheikh Assir rose to prominence as the Syrian war threatened to spill over into Lebanon

Radical Lebanese Sunni preacher Sheikh Ahmad al-Assir has been arrested, officials say.

Sheikh Assir was arrested at Beirut airport as he tried to leave the country, the unnamed officials said.

He had been on the run since clashes with the Lebanese army in 2013, which left at least 17 soldiers dead.

The cleric organised followers to fight alongside rebels in Syria in response to Hezbollah, the Lebanese Shia group which backs President Bashar al-Assad.


The army faced strong resistance from Sheikh Assir’s followers during clashes in Sidon

Mr Assir is wanted over an incident in June 2013 in which one of his men was caught with unauthorised weapons in his car at a military checkpoint in Sidon, 40km (28 miles) south of the capital, Beirut.

Witnesses at the time said machine guns and rockets were used – and when the army went to Mr Assir’s compound, it found heavy weapons and military-style uniforms.

Lebanese officials said he was arrested trying to fly to Egypt using a false passport, having “changed his appearance”.

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