World Bulletin / News Desk
President Michel Suleiman on Friday called on Lebanese political leaders to convene on March 31 for a national dialogue session on a national defense strategy with the ultimate aim of resolving the longstanding controversy over Hezbollah's arms.
The session will discuss Suleiman's proposals for a national defense strategy with a view to reaching consensus on the issue, according to a statement issued by the presidency.
Under Suleiman's proposed plan, Hezbollah would put its arsenal under the control of the Lebanese Army, which would have a legal monopoly on the use of force, but Hezbollah would be allowed to activate "resistance" in case of invasion by an external power.
The last dialogue session was held in November of 2012, when Suleiman first tabled the proposal. The initiative was suspended, however, amid deep political differences over Hezbollah's military involvement in next-door Syria, where it has continued to support the Bashar al-Assad regime.
Death toll from Lebanon's Tripoli clashes rises to 8
Six people were killed and nine injured on Friday in a fresh round of sectarian violence in Lebanon's northern city of Tripoli, bringing the total casualty toll from the ongoing clashes to eight deaths and 18 injuries within the last 24 hours, a security official said.
Clashes reignited on Friday between armed residents of Tripoli's Alawite-majority Jabal Mohsen neighborhood and the Sunni-majority Bab al-Tabbaneh district, who engaged in overnight gun battles, the official told Anadolu Agency.
Two people were killed and eight others injured in clashes that lasted throughout Thursday night, the official had told AA earlier.
The latest fatalities bring the overall death toll from a week of on-again, off-again sectarian violence in the city to 20.
Over 100 people have also been injured, including 19 soldiers.
The recent bloodletting is only the latest in a pattern of violence that has seen 20 separate clashes between the two rival neighborhoods within the last six years.
Since 2008, around 170 people have been killed and hundreds injured in violent confrontations between armed residents from the two districts, according to an informal survey conducted by Anadolu Agency.
The ongoing sectarian strife was initially fueled by the 2005 assassination of late Lebanese prime minister Rafiq Hariri.
While Syria's Alawite regime had been accused of standing behind Hariri's assassination, the allegation has never been proven.
An ongoing sectarian conflict in neighboring Syria has also contributed to sectarian strife in Lebanon.Last Mod: 22 Mart 2014, 09:51