U.N. official says preventative steps needed in Syria’s neighbors


U.N. Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson said Tuesday events in Syria call for preventative measures in neighboring countries, praising the role of the Lebanese Army in restoring order in north Lebanon.

Speaking to reporters after his meeting with Prime Minister Najib Mikati, Eliasson also said that events in Syria have taken on sectarian and ethnic dimensions, which in turn impacts negatively on the situation of thousands of refugees who have fled since the uprising began over a year ago.

He praised Lebanon’s “sacrifices” with regards to the refugees, of which there are 154,387, particularly in keeping the borders open.

Eliasson also spoke about the important role the Army played in restoring security in Tripoli.

After the meeting, Mikati traveled to Tripoli to follow up on developments Tuesday after week-long clashes between supporters and opponents of President Bashar Assad left at least 17 people dead in the city.

He is expected to hold meetings in his residence with the local public figures to discuss the Army’s security plan which went into effect Monday, ending the fighting.

Military units deployed Sunday night in the neighborhood of Jabal Mohsen, whose residents are largely supportive of Assad and went into Bab al-Tabbaneh, the majority of whom support the uprising, early Monday morning.

The fighting, the heaviest this year, erupted between the two neighborhoods early last week after news that a group of Lebanese fighters from Tripoli and its environs were killed by the Syrian army in the Syrian town of Tal Kalakh.

Syria handed over three of the bodies to Lebanon Sunday.



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