Lebanon: Sunni militants battle army in Tripoli

Clashes erupted Oct. 24 between the Lebanese army and Sunni gunmen in the northern city of Tripoli, leaving a militant leader dead and two soldiers wounded. The fighting began when a group of some 20 militants attacked an army post in the neighborhood of Khan al-Askar after dusk. Authorities believe the attack was launched in response to rumors that a suspected ISIS militant arrested the previous day in north Lebanon had died in custody. The detained militant, Ahmad Salim Mikati, was captured in a raid in the Dinnieh region. Security sources said that Mikati admitted to belonging to ISIS and was plotting to kidnap soldiers. Mikati's nephew, Bilal Mikati, was allegedly involved in the beheading of a captive Lebanese soldier in August. The Tripoli clashes were the first since the outbreak of Syria's war to break out in the city's historic souks area, being considered by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site. (Daily Star, Lebanon, Middle East Eye, Oct. 24)

Last week also saw a stand-off in Tripoli, as armed supporters of Sunni militants Shadi Mawlawi and Osama Mansour conitnued to occupy the Abdullah bin Massoud Mosque in the city's Bab al-Tabbaneh district, in defiance of orders by authorities to evacuate. The militants finally withdrrew from the mosque under a deal brokered by local sheikhs. (Daily Star, Oct. 15; Daily Star, Oct. 13)