Beirut clash between rival clans leaves one dead

Rocket-propelled grenades used in turf war, sources say

BEIRUT, LEBANON - OCTOBER 30: Supporters of Lebanese Prime Minister Saad al Hariri gather to show support on October 30, 2019 in Tariq Al Jadideh, Beirut, Lebanon. After 14 days of unrest, protesters opened roads across the country today, declaring a 72 hour break for reforms to be implemented before re-taking the streets if their demands are not met. (Photo by Sam Tarling/Getty Images)
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A young man was killed in Beirut overnight on Tuesday in a Sunni turf war linked to leadership rivalries in a community marginalised by the loss of political power over the past decade.

The Lebanese military said machine-guns and rocket-propelled grenades were used in the fighting. Army units “took security measures to control the situation,” an official statement said.

The killing in the mostly Sunni Tariq El Jdideh district resulted from a clash between a clan loyal to former prime minister Saad Hariri and another supporting his brother Bahaa, two residents told The National.

Both Saad and Bahaa issued statements in Twitter condemning the violence in Tariq El Jdideh.

The clash occurred between members of the Palestinian Shishniyeh clan and the Krombis, a Lebanese family originally from Arsal in the Bekaa Valley.

Both were pro-Saad Hariri until the Krombis switched sides to Bahaa Hariri three months ago, one of the residents said.

A Shishniyeh street gang attacked a Krombi gang late on Monday in retaliation for the stabbing of Alaa Shishniyeh, one of their own, two days ago. Taha Krombi was killed in the attack and two other people were wounded, the residents said.

Video footage purporting to show the violence also appeared on social media.

“The Shishniyehs felt they had to retaliate after Alaa was stabbed. It required 160 stitches to save him,” one of the witnesses, who declined to be named, said.

“The incident started as personal but the political background helped escalate it,” he said.

(FILES) In this file photo taken on February 19, 2005, three of the sons of slain Lebanese prime minister Rafiq Hariri Ayman, Saadeddin, and Bahaa (C) pray at the site of a massive explosion in which their father was killed along with 14 people in central Beirut. On Valentine's Day 2005, the former prime minister Rafic Hariri who embodied the reconstruction of the country after its 1975-1990 civil war was killed in a monster bomb attack on his convoy. The special tribunal trying the four suspects accused of the 2005 assassination is expected to deliver its verdict on on August 18, 2020. / AFP / -

Tariq El Jdideh, a working class neighbourhood, is a barometer of popular Sunni sentiment in Lebanon.

The district is adjacent to the Palestinian Sabra and Shatila refugee camps and is near Hezbollah strongholds in the south of Beirut.

In 2018, the district was scene to fighting between Hezbollah gunmen who overran most of Beirut and Tariq El Jdideh’s Sunni residents, after the cabinet moved to ban a private telecoms network operated by Hezbollah.

The fighting in and around Beirut, and in north Lebanon in May that year killed 37 people. Since then several skirmishes occurred between Hezbollah supporters and armed Sunnis in Tariq El Jdideh.

A peaceful protest movement against the entire political class forced Mr Hariri to resign as prime minister in October, as the economy started to melt down.

Fault lines among Lebanon’s Sunni community emerged after the 2005 assassination in Beirut of statesman Rafik Al Hariri, the father of Saad and his elder brother Bahaa.

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