Lebanon tense after Assad's speech

Jan. 7, 2013 at 2:04 PM
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BEIRUT, Lebanon, Jan. 7 (UPI) -- The Lebanese military said it was able to keep the security situation in north Lebanon stable following a weekend speech by Syrian President Bashar Assad.

The military said residents in the northern Lebanese city of Tripoli fired celebratory gunfire into the air following Assad's speech. Some exchange of gunfire was reported between rival communities in the area, reports Lebanese newspaper The Daily Star.

"The army was able to restore normalcy to Tripoli following tension in the city," an army statement read.

Clashes between pro- and anti-Syrian factions in Tripoli in August sparked concerns the Syrian civil war could spill into Lebanon.

Syrian military forces left Lebanon in 2005 following the Cedar Revolution, sparked by the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri. His son, Saad, another former prime minister, leads the March 14 coalition. Last week, Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah said the ruling March 8 slate was responsible for keeping the Syrian conflict at bay.

Assad said in a speech broadcast on state television that the "enemies of God" were working to fragment Syria, CNN reported.

The U.S. State Department issued a statement after the speech, saying Assad was "detached from reality."

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