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Friday, May 9, 2008

Pro-Iran Hizbullah tightens its grip on Beirut

The long arm of Iran is again reaching into Lebanon via Syria as the Hizbullah terrorist organization increases its pressure on the weak pro-U.S. government in Beirut.

Militant Shi'ite gunmen from Hizbullah on Friday seized control of several Beirut neighborhoods and closed media offices.

In early April, the Lebanese Army became aware of and sought to stem the infiltration by insurgents from Syria. "There are hundreds of terrorists flowing into Lebanon, and until now little was done," a security source said.

The Financial Times reported that forces loyal to the government have been out-maneuverd by "better armed and organised Hizbullah gunmen, who were supported by fighters loyal to Amal," another Shi'ite opposition movement.

Also In This Edition

Pro-government loyalists plant a Lebanese flag on barricades at the main highway leading to southern Lebanon south of Beirut on May 8.       Reuters/ Ali Hashisho
Residents told the newspaper that Hizbullah backers, having closed the airport, were seeking to take over the capital and topple the government.

On May 8, Hizbullah's chief, Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, accused the Beirut government of declaring war against his organization. Hizbullah is backed by Iran and Syria.

Nasrallah said Lebanon's moves against a Hizbullah communications network and the firing of a Shi'ite general had been done at the behest of the United States and Israel.

The government this week declared Hizbullah’s communications network illegal and removed a Hizbullah-linked general as head of airport security.

Saad Hariri, a Sunni and leader of the parliamentary majority that backs Prime Minister Fouad Siniora, called on Nasrallah to end the “siege” of Beirut.

Over the last month, hundreds of Palestinian and Iranian-trained insurgents have infiltrated Lebanon from Syria. Officials said the infiltrators included members of the Syrian-sponsored Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command and Fatah Al Islam.

The United Nations has sought to help the Lebanese government increase border security. But the UN Interim Force in Lebanon has backed down from confrontations with Lebanese militias, particularly the Iranian-sponsored Hizbullah.

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