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Sunday, August 19, 2012

Thousands more flee Syria, Lebanon increasingly unstable

From Ya Libnan:
In the last few days, thousands of Syrians have poured across the borders of neighboring countries, fleeing increasing violence in their homeland but creating tension elsewhere.

More than 170,000 Syrians have sought sanctuary in Lebanon, Turkey, Jordan and Iraq,at least 12,000 of them just in the last three days — leading to a growing humanitarian crisis, the United Nations refugee agency said Friday.
At least 168 people were killed across the country Friday, activists said, many of them in the cities of Aleppo, Damascus and Dara, as the regime of President Bashar Assad uses attack helicopters and warplanes with greater frequency in its assaults on towns and cities.

Syrians fleeing to Lebanon, however, are finding a potentially unstable situation there as well.

The leader of a prominent Lebanese political party on Friday called for declaring a state of emergency as the Syrian conflict spilled over into his country.

Samir Geagea, leader of the Christian Lebanese Forces party, called for the measure a week after Lebanese politician Michel Samaha was arrested and accused of planning to target Sunni Muslims in Lebanon. And on Wednesday, a powerful Shiite Muslim clan abducted dozens of Syrians and other foreigners in retaliation for the kidnapping of one of their kin by Free Syrian Army rebels.

More abductions were reported Thursday, though the clan denied responsibility.

“The image formed in every citizen’s mind now is that Lebanon is an uncontrolled state with no authority, constitution or rules whatsoever,” Geagea said in a televised news conference in which he condemned the abductions. “No matter how righteous and decent their cause was, nothing justifies what happened, as it paralyzed the country and annulled the state’s role.”
Speaking of Samaha, the latest details in the case show Lebanese impotence:
Lebanon President Michel Suleiman said on Saturday that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad should call him and explain the transfer of weapons from Syria to Lebanon in the car of former Information Minister Michel Samaha.

“ The Lebanese judiciary accused a Syrian official of sending weapons to Lebanon , and I expect the Syrian president to call me and explain the incident . I hope this call will take place,” National News Agency quoted Suleiman as saying.

Following his arrest, several reports revealed that Samaha confessed under interrogation that he had transferred “explosives from Syria to Lebanon in order to carry out bombings in North Lebanon, particularly in the area of Akkar, with Syria’s knowledge.”
An Air France flight bound for Beirut last week was forced to land in Syria because protests effectively closed the Lebanese airport