Friday, May 9, 2008

AFP: Opposition Takes Control of all Western Beirut

AFP via al-Manar:

The Lebanese National Opposition announced western Beirut under its control, according to AFP.

Calm has prevailed in most areas in the Lebanese capital Beirut, after the latest incidents saw the mercenaries of the Mustakbal militia flee from most neighborhoods. Residents as well as National Opposition loyalists forced Mustakabal gunmen to lay down their arms and surrender. From the Watwat area to Zaydaniyeh, Tamer Mallat neighborhood, Tallet al-Khayyat, Karakon Druz, Jnah, Ras el-Nabeh, Nweiri, Basta and elsewhere, Mustakbal militiamen surrendered and others fled as Lebanese Army forces deployed in the regions.

Sunni forces in Beirut contacted al-Manar TV to express relief that their city has become free of mercenaries. They also expressed regret that the Mustakbal militia has deceived young men working in security firms and brought them from northern Lebanon under the pretext of protecting some institutions. Al-Manar interviewed some of these young men who have been captured by opposition forces. One of them said that he and other young men were brought into Beirut as part of their job as private security men. He added that when they arrived to the capital, Mustakbal militiamen gave them weapons to fight opposition forces. The fatigued young man said that he was not aware of any fighting and that he was abandoned along with his colleagues, lost in the streets of Beirut and unaware of what's going on. "I did not come form north Lebanon to fight anyone. My family is poor. I work in a security firm and I earn 400$ per month. They brought us and gave us arms. We refused because this was not our job. We laid down our arms and surrendered because we neither want to kill nor get killed for nothing," the young man said.

Mustakbal and Progressive Socialist Party militiamen also surrendered in the regions of Khaldeh, Aramoun and Bchamoun.

Meanwhile, the Mustakbal media outlets, namely Future TV stations, Al-Sharq radio station, Liwa' newspaper have stopped broadcasting since the early hours of Friday. Future TV employyes made extensive calls to evacuate them from the building after Mustakbal militiamen abandoned them. The Lebanese Army took control of the Future TV building. Moreover, opposition supporters took the mission of protecting the residence of Interior Minister in Fouad Saniora's unconstitutional government, Hasan Sabaa, after his protection body fled the perimeter of his dwelling.

The head of the Progressive Socialist Party MP Walid Jumblatt has reportedly requested personal protection and was evacuated from his residence in Clemanceau, escorted by Lebanese army forces, according to media reports. However the Druz MP denied such reports.