Army ups security in north Lebanon over kidnapping threats

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 The Lebanese Army took exceptional measures Monday in the northern city of Tripoli after reports of possible kidnappings to pressure Damascus to hand over the bodies of Lebanese fighters killed in Syria.

Security sources told The Daily Star that the Army has set up several checkpoints on roads leading to the largely pro-Assad Alawite Jabal Mohsen neighborhood, including Talaat al-Omari.

Additional soldiers have also been dispatched while the military has begun conducting patrols around Tripoli.

The sources described the atmosphere in Lebanon’s second largest city as “tense.”

Residents of Jabal Mohsen said Monday they received threats of abduction from their rivals in the anti-Assad Bab al-Tabbaneh area, as an exchange for their relatives’ bodies.

Meanwhile, a rocket-propelled grenade fell on Syria Street, which separates the two neighborhoods whose residents have clashed over the crisis in Syria this year, leaving scores of people dead and over 100 wounded.

Twenty-one Lebanese fighters were killed Friday in the Syrian town of Tal Kalakh in an ambush by regime forces near the border with Lebanon.

Syrian state television broadcast images Sunday of more than five dead bodies with Lebanese identification, reporting that the men were among the Salafist fighters.

The station said that the men were killed in Tal Kalakh after sneaking into the country from Wadi Khaled, and others in the group had been wounded.

Sources familiar with the situation as well as several Free Syrian Army officers told The Daily Star Sunday that the men, between 18 and 25 years old, gathered at a Tripoli mosque last week for prayers, planning to die in battle.

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