Syrian civil war violence spread to Lebanon’s west coast Monday, leaving two dead and 40 wounded in Tripoli clashes between pro and anti- Assad groups in a sign that Lebanon’s history of civil war may repeat itself along Israel's northern border.
At least 10 Lebanese army soldiers were wounded during the fighting in Tripoli, the Beirut Daily Star reported. Security sources said that machine-gun fire and rocket-propelled grenades (RPGs) forced the army to retreat as anti-Assad Sunni Muslims fought with pro-Assad Alawites.A wave of kidnappings in the past week, similar to those in the 15-year-old civil war from 1975 to 1990, left dozens of captives in the hands of Shi’ite Muslims who want the release of 12 Lebanese being held hostage by rebels in Syria.
“We have long warned against slipping into the smoldering fire surrounding Lebanon but it is clear that there are several parties who seek to involve Lebanon in the conflict,” Prime Minister Najib Mikati said in a statement.Lebanon has been on the constant verge of civil war since before Syrian President Bashar Assad pulled out thousands of soldiers from the country several years ago. Pro-Syrian and Hizbullah forces have gained strength in every government and now are the dominating force in the splintered country.
The lack of authority by the Lebanese army leaves a power vacuum that Hizbullah, financed by Iran, might continue to fill, allowing it to strengthen its hold on the country.
The worst-case scenario for Israel would be the rebels in Syria and Hizbullah in Lebanon turning their guns on their common enemy – Israel – if war breaks out with Iran.
Amid increasing talk of a possible Israeli strike on its nuclear facilities, Iran has begun construction of a new, state-of-the-art, anti-aircraft missile base.The new base, located near the city of Abadeh, in southern Iran, will cost $300 million, be home to 6,000 personnel, and host seven battalions, Iran’s Fars news agency reported Tuesday.Last month, a senior Iranian air defense commander asserted that all Iranian air defense units and systems are fully prepared to repel possible enemy air raids.Iran considers both the United States and Israel as potential adversaries. Neither country has ruled out a military strike against Iran’s nuclear program, which they claim is aimed at developing nuclear weapons. Iran says its program is for peaceful purposes.Iran has also been pushing to upgrade its missiles, which already can target Israel and US bases in the Middle East. The Pentagon released a report in June noting significant advances in Iranian missile technology, acknowledging that the Islamic Republic has improved the accuracy and firing capabilities of its missiles.