Entries in Tripoli (58)


Syrian Spillover Violence in Lebanon Fuels Fears of Wider Conflict

Scott Peterson/Getty Images(JERUSALEM) -- Lebanon’s second-biggest city saw its fourth consecutive day of violence Thursday between groups supporting and opposing Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

The sectarian fighting, some of the worst since Lebanon’s bloody 15-year civil war, has left at least a dozen people dead and re-ignited fears that the 17-month uprising in neighboring Syria could have wider regional implications.

Local media described a tentative peace broken in the northern port city of Tripoli Thursday, with reports of one man killed by a sniper. Sniper fire and explosions from rocket-propelled grenades were heard overnight and into the morning.

At least 12 people have been killed since Monday with more than 70 wounded, including 11 soldiers called in to quell the violence, according to the Daily Star newspaper.

The violence started Monday between two areas in Tripoli: a Sunni Muslim neighborhood that is anti-Assad, and another that supports Assad and that, like Assad, is Alawite, an offshoot of Shia Islam. The two areas are divided by an avenue called Syria Street.

The fighting follows tit-for-tat kidnappings that have seen Lebanese Shiites abducted in Syria and Syrian rebels kidnapped by a powerful clan in Lebanon. It is also the latest in a string of flare-ups between the Sunnis and Alawites in Tripoli since the Syrian uprising started last March.

Lebanese Prime Minister Najib Miqati warned Wednesday that the violence is “efforts to drag Lebanon more and more into the conflict in Syria when what is required is for leaders to cooperate … to protect Lebanon from the danger.”

Activists inside Syria on Thursday reported renewed fighting in Syria’s two biggest cities, Damascus and Aleppo. Government troops reportedly clashed with rebel forces, pushing up from the southern edge of Damascus. They also shelled neighborhoods from the Qasioun mountain overlooking the north of the city.

In the past few weeks, much of the focus of the fighting has been on the commercial capital of Aleppo, Syria’s biggest city. Rebel fighters have faced tanks, helicopter gunships and fighter jets, with claims of victory and control coming from both sides.

“Civilians are enduring a horrific level of violence in the battle between Syrian government forces and opposition fighters for control of Aleppo,” Amnesty International said Thursday in a new report following a 10-day stay in the city. “The use of imprecise weapons, such as unguided bombs, artillery shells and mortars by government forces has dramatically increased the danger for civilians,” said the group’s Donatella Rovera.

The Britain-based opposition group Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said more than 100 people were killed across the country Thursday while some 250 were killed Wednesday.

“The situation has just got worse over there,” Finnish Lieutenant Commander Mikko Suomela told newspaper Helsingin Sanomat upon arriving home after the four-month United Nations monitoring mission ended over the weekend. “The fighting has escalated from sporadic outbreaks to cover almost the entire country,” he said. At some point, undoubtedly, there will be peace, but I’m afraid that it will take some time. It doesn’t look good.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Pan Am Bomber Abdel Basset Ali al-Megrahi Dies At 60

Manoocher Deghati/AFP/Getty Images(TRIPOLI) -- Libya’s Abdel Basset Ali al-Megrahi, the only man convicted in the 1988 bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland, died in Tripoli on Sunday, according to published reports. He was 60.

Al-Megrahi was responsible for killing 270 people—including 189 Americans—in the plane bombing. He was later convicted by a special court in the Netherlands in 2002, and was released by Britain on compassionate grounds in 2009, sparking outrage among his victims’ families.

Al-Megrahi battled cancer and had been told he had only months to live.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Syria Spillover Fighting in Lebanon Intensifying

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(TRIPOLI, Lebanon) -- On Monday Lebanon's second-biggest city -- Tripoli -- saw its third day of fierce clashes, and Monday night there were reports of mortars being used for the first time. Machine guns and RPGs have been used in the fighting that has killed at least eight people and injured around 50, according to NOW Lebanon.

The fighting is taking place between Sunni residents and members of the Alawite community, the same Shiite offshoot to which President Bashar al-Assad belongs. They have clashed before, but as Nasser Atta notes, the Lebanese media says it's some of the most intense the city has seen in years, and it's directly tied to the Syrian conflict.

The violence started Saturday when fundamentalist Sunni cleric Shadi Mawlawi -- believed to be sending weapons and fighters into Syria -- was arrested by Lebanese security forces for "ties to a terrorist organization." He was charged Monday with belonging to an armed terrorist group. On Saturday, his Islamist supporters attacked Lebanese soldiers and tried to march on the offices of a pro-Assad party. Soldiers are trying to keep the peace but it's not working.

Many Syrian refugees (Sunni) have sought refuge in Tripoli, just a short distance from the border with Syria.

This spillover violence and the extremist bombings of late do not bode well for this conflict.  

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


At Least a Dozen Injured in Violent Tripoli Attacks

ABC NEWS/Rob Wallace(TRIPOLI, Libya) -- At least a dozen people were injured and one person reported killed Friday night as violence broke out in the Lebanese city of Tripoli, the BBC reports.

Security officials say opponents and supporters of Syria's president Bashar al-Assad continue to engage in deadly combat in the northern port city, with the latest violence ensuing after Friday prayers and carrying through the night. The BBC reports the two sides fired guns and grenades at each other in the Sunni Muslim-dominated area.

Lebanese troops were sent in to deal with the violence after several soldiers were injured in the attacks, officials said in a statement.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Leon Panetta Arrives in Libya for Meetings with Transitional Govt.

PAUL J. RICHARDS/AFP/Getty Images(TRIPOLI) -- Defense Secretary Leon Panetta became the first Pentagon chief ever to set foot on Libyan soil on Saturday.

Upon arrival at Tripoli's International Airport , near to the scene of gun battles just a week ago, Panetta was whisked away for meetings with Libya's transitional government.  

His visit comes a day after the U.N. , the U.S. and the U.K. announced the lifting of sanctions and the unblocking of billions of dollars of assets frozen earlier this year.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Bulldozers Begin Demolition of Gadhafi's Tripoli Compound

AFP/Getty Images(TRIPOLI) -- The people of Tripoli experienced a hugely symbolic moment over the weekend as bulldozers knocked down the massive concrete walls circling Gadhafi’s compound. The area is set to be turned into a park, according to Ahmad Ghargory, commander of a revolutionary brigade.

The area in front of the home, formerly used by Gadhafi to deliver speeches rallying supporters, has already been transformed into a pet market.

The Gadhafi stronghold is seen by revolutionaries as a symbol of repression, and on Sunday the new leaders said it was finally time to “tear down this symbol of tyranny.”

This is seen as a turning point in the civil war, as people had long been scared to even walk around the area for more than four decades during Gadhafi’s rule.

Copyright 2011 ABC News radio


Libyan Revolution Hailed by Four Visiting GOP Senators

ABC News(TRIPOLI, Libya) -- A quartet of Republican Senators visited Tripoli Thursday to meet with members of the Transitional National Council, the new leaders of Libya.

Speaking for the group, Arizona Sen. John McCain told reporters, "The Libyan people have inspired the world....We believe strongly that the people of Libya today are inspiring the people in Tehran, in Damascus and even in Beijing and Moscow."

McCain, who was in Libya's capital with Senators Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, Mark Kirk of Illinois and Marco Rubio of Florida, also held talks with Libya's military commanders, who are directing rebels in their fight against forces still loyal to ousted dictator, Col. Moammar Gadhafi.

While the TNC now virtually controls nearly all of Libya, McCain also spoke of another serious crisis -- that of thousands of unaccounted pieces of Gadhafi's arsenal that include conventional and biological and chemical weapons.

The Arizona lawmaker, who supported U.S. and NATO efforts to back the rebels, said, "It's essential to continue working together to secure the many weapons and dangerous materials that the Gadhafi regime proliferated around this country."

McCain asserted that more is being done to find these arsenals before they wind up in the hands of Gadhafi's forces or Islamic militants who could transport them to other countries.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


American Flag Raised over US Embassy in Tripoli

MAHMUD TURKIA/AFP/Getty Images(TRIPOLI, Libya) -- The American embassy in Tripoli officially re-opened Thursday, nearly seven months after it was shuttered as fighting intensified in Libya and just hours before the Obama administration slapped sanctions on the Gadhafi regime.

U.S. Ambassador Gene Cretz returned to Libya Wednesday for the first time since he left the country in January after a spat with the Libyan government when WikiLeaks released some of his cables critical of the Gadhafi government.

The U.S. embassy is working out of a temporary location after its compound was ransacked and burned by a pro-Gadhafi mob in May. Video from inside the compound showed debris littering the charred hallways of some embassy buildings.

American diplomats had been operating out of the rebel stronghold of Benghazi for several months before the capital fell under control of the rebels. The first U.S. diplomats returned to the Libyan capital earlier this month along with a team of experts and military advisers who are working to assess whether the embassy compound can be salvaged.

The United States never severed diplomatic relations with Libya when the embassy was closed in February, but did kick out any Libyan diplomats still loyal to Gadhafi.

Longtime Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi has fled the capital but has yet to be found.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


US Military Personnel In Libya: Pentagon Confirms

Stockbyte/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- The pentagon has confirmed that four U.S. military personnel were placed on the ground in Libya over the weekend.

Joint Chiefs spokesman Captain John Kirby said, “there are four DOD personnel assisting the State Department assessment team in Tripoli as they consider how and when to reopen and establish the embassy there. These people are under the direction of the chief of missions in an advisory and assistance capacity helping with the assessment.”

This is the first time U.S. diplomats are in Tripoli since the embassy there was shuttered in February, according to the State Department. Two of the four team members are explosive ordnance experts sent to check the damaged U.S. Embassy. The other two are security assessment experts.

According to Kirby, the U.S. service members will look to see what is still usable at the embassy, and what needs to be done.

They plan to pull out with the rest of the State Department team when the assessment wraps up.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio´╗┐


US Diplomats Return to Tripoli Saturday

US State Department(WASHINGTON) -- A handful of diplomats, led by the embassy’s No. 2 official Joan Polaschik, return to Tripoli Saturday for the first time since the embassy was ransacked, burned and shuttered last February to prepare for the  its eventual reopening, the State Department said Friday.

"She’ll have a couple of policy people with her and some more security folks and building folks, to work on getting the premises ready for the reopening as soon as we can,” State Department  spokeswoman Victoria Nuland told reporters.

“The policy team will also enable us to have a direct diplomatic contact with Mr. Tarhouni and other members of the TNC and members of the international community and the U.N. who are now working in Tripoli,” she said, referring to the local head of the Libyan opposition group that ousted longtime leader Moammar Gadhafi from power.

U.S. officials told ABC News that the embassy would  likely reopen in a couple weeks. The group arriving Saturday will likely work out of temporary offices.

Those working at the embassy at the time of the attack were chased off by an AK-47 wielding mob that overran the compound. ABC News’ Jeffrey Kofman obtained exclusive cell phone footage of that day, which shows plumes of black smoke rising from the embassy. A video uploaded to YouTube in early June, which appears to have been shot inside the compound, shows burned-out buildings and destroyed furniture.

The State Department dispatched a small “technical team” to Tripoli last weekend to assess the damage and the security situation in the capital. It found structural damage to some of the embassy buildings and reported that the chancery and the ambassador’s residence were both trashed and burned.

The U.S. ambassador to Libya, Gene Cretz, is not returning to the country just yet but is expected to be back for the embassy’s reopening.

“We have no place for him to work. We have no appropriate connectivity to Washington. We have no -- you know, a limited number of cars and all that kind of stuff that he needs to work. We have to reconstitute our Libyan staff who has loyally managed a lot of our property and assets in Libya. So we just -- we need some time,” Nuland explained.

She also said that Chris Stevens, the American diplomat who was the primary contact with the rebels based in their stronghold of Benghazi, will remain there for the time being.

“For the coming period, we’re going to maintain the presence in Benghazi, because there are also important players in Benghazi,” said Nuland.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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