A recent exchange of gunfire between anonymous snipers has raised fears that Lebanon is plunging back into a civil war that has devastated “Eastern Paris”. As the Middle Eastern state continues to be the scene of massive protests and a grueling economic crisis, recent violence has drawn attention to the ever-growing sectarian conflict in Lebanon. Notably, Lebanon was ravaged by a 15-year civil war between 1975 and 1990, which left over 120,000 dead and an exodus of over a million more.
On October 14, several unidentified snipers began shooting at civilian protesters during a rally organized by Hezbollah and the Amal movement in the Tayouneh neighborhood of Beirut. Minutes later, the attack was retaliated by armed protesters and soon an exchange of gunfire erupted. Although the exchange sent residents to seek shelter, it also reminded them of the terrible civil war of 1975. According to Lebanese Red Ross, the violent episode left seven civilians dead while 30 others were seriously injured. .
In the process, Hezbollah – a Shiite political party and militant group – accused its regional adversary and Christian militant group Lebanese Forces (FL) of having started the exchange of gunfire. LF immediately denied the accusation and claimed that it was Hezbollah that had “invaded” neighborhoods in the country’s capital. In an addendum, he also accused the Islamist group of exploiting sectarian tensions in the country in his favor and said it was Hezbollah that used “uncontrolled and widespread weapons” that sparked the violent clashes.
Later, in a televised address, Lebanese President Michel Aoun pledged to arrest those responsible for the violence and hold them accountable. “It took us back to the days when we said we would never forget and never repeat,” he said in a televised address, referring to the country’s 15-year civil war from 1975 to 1990.
No one has yet been held responsible for the Beirut explosion
An explosion occurred in the Lebanese port of Beirut on August 4, 2020, killing more than 200 people and destroying the metropolis. The families of the victims joined in protest against the suspension of the investigation into the explosion which killed more than 219 people. In September last year, Senior Judge Tarek Bitar was forced to suspend the investigation after the accused Interior Minister Nouhad Machnouk formally requested his exclusion from the case. No one was held responsible for the explosion which made international headlines and destroyed the Lebanese capital while leaving more than 7,000 injured. It was later discovered that the company that bought the ammonium nitrate that exploded in Beirut had possible ties to two Syrian businessmen under US sanctions.