Soaring Tensions in Lebanon: Clerics Announce ‘Lebanese Free Army’

Syrian Sectarianism Spills Across the Border

Gunfire is being reported in Beirut, with at least six people injured in growing sectarian clashes between the nation’s Sunni population and the Lebanese military. Mohammed Beiruti, a top Islamist leader, warned that all of northern Lebanon “may explode.”

Two top local Sunnis had been killed in the city of Halba, shot to death at a military checkpoint outside of the city, and religious leaders announced the creation of a “Lebanese Free Army” modeled after the rebel Free Syrian Army.

Lebanon’s complex political landscape doesn’t mirror that in Syria, but the tensions between the followers of former PM Saad Hariri and the current Hezbollah-backed PM Najib Mikati are split largely along pro and anti-Syria lines.

Already there has been fighting along the Lebanon-Syria border, with Syria complaining that rebels are setting up shop across the border and launching raids. The creation of this new Lebanese Free Army could turn Lebanon from a secondary theater in the Syrian Civil War to fighting a civil war of its own.

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Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is news editor of