The opposition Syrian National Council on Tuesday accused the Lebanese authorities of failing to act over a wave of kidnappings and arrests of Syrians in Lebanon and accused some political parties of complicity.
“Syrians in Lebanon have been abducted by political parties, and subject to arbitrary arrests by security agents, without the authorities so much as lifting a finger,” the SNC said, implicitly blaming the Shiite militant group Hezbollah which is closely allied with the Damascus regime.
The SNC claimed that some 36 Syrians had been kidnapped in Lebanon over the past few days, while a security source told AFP that at least one Syrian was also abducted in Beirut on Monday.
The Lebanese authorities “have ignored the fate of the abductees so far, giving those involved the opportunity to kidnap others using the excuse that there are Lebanese detainees in Syria,” it said.
Last week, the armed Shi’ite Muqdad clan claimed it had kidnapped around 20 Syrians in retaliation for the abduction of a family member by a Syrian rebel group, which accused him of being a Hezbollah sniper.
Many more were reportedly seized as rioters went on the rampage in Beirut, attacking shops and cars belonging to Syrians.
The Iran- and Syria-backed Hezbollah, considered the most powerful military force in Lebanon and a main party in the governing coalition, has denied any connection with the clan member or the kidnappings.
Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah insisted last week that the group cannot control the “reactions” of people to the events in Syria.
The SNC also said Lebanese army intelligence on Monday raided the home of a Syrian humanitarian activist and arrested two of his colleagues, and also arrested a Syrian lawyer.
The unrest has fanned fears that the 17-month conflict in its much larger neighbor could further destabilize Lebanon, which has struggled for decades with wars, sectarian strife and a weak political system.
On Tuesday, at least 28 people were wounded in running clashes between pro- and anti-Damascus regime supporters in Lebanon's second largest city of Tripoli,
Exchanges of gunfire erupted on Monday and continued through the night between the mainly Sunni district of Bab el-Tebbaneh and the largely Alawite area of Jabal Mohsen.
“Clashes are ongoing, and the army is currently intervening,” a military official told AFP.
Several houses caught fire and cars were damaged in the fighting, which has added to fears that the conflict in Syria is increasingly spilling over into Lebanon, destabilizing the already fragile security situation.
Five soldiers, including an officer, were wounded when gunfire hit army patrols in the area, a military statement said, adding that the 23 other wounded were civilians.
The violence was centered around the aptly-named Syria Street, the symbolic “dividing line” between the rival Tripoli districts and many civilians have fled the area.
The Sunni-majority port city has been the scene of intense and sometimes deadly clashes between Sunni supporters of the anti-Syrian opposition and Alawite Muslims loyal to a Hezbollah-led alliance backed by Iran and Syria.