Lebanese army vows to protect protesters ‘in the event of an attack’

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The Lebanese army has said it will protect demonstrators gathering in Beirut on Monday after supporters of the Hezbollah and Amal parties attempted to breach the protest areas in the capital.

“We will not remain neutral in the event of an attack on demonstrators in any area,” sources from the Lebanese army were quoted as saying by local media outlets.

Al Arabiya English's correspondent on the ground said around 100-200 men on motorbikes waving Hezbollah and Amal flags arrived at Bechara al-Khoury at around 9:00 pm Lebanese time on Monday night.

Another video also showed Lebanese soldiers forcibly removing the Hezbollah and Amal supporters from their motorbikes and blocking them from approaching the main protests squares in downtown Beirut.

By 11:00 pm local time in Beirut, Lebanese army vehicles could be seen stationed at the entrances of the main protest squares and barring any motorbikes from entering the area.

Lebanese TV LBC on twitter said that sources in the government of Saad Hariri denied any intention of declaring a state of emergency in the country.

For his part, General Ashraf Rifi, a former Lebanese justice minister, said that Hezbollah wanted to scare protesters away. He added that Hezbollah had underestimated the intelligence of the Lebanese protesters, saying that “we want to get Lebanon back from Iran.”

Rifi is a staunch critic of Iran-allied Hezbollah and on many occasions had criticized the Lebanese militia movement of “breaking up” the Lebanese state.

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