By Claire Valdini
Citizens are advised to exercise caution after flare up in violence near Syria border
The US Embassy in Lebanon has issued a warning to its citizens in the country to avoid public areas and exercise caution.
Violence between pro and anti-Syrian groups in Beirut left two people dead and 18 injured early Monday, sparking concerns the conflict in Syria is spilling across the border into Lebanon.
“The US Embassy advises US citizens in Lebanon of the potential for continued demonstrations, road blockages, and violence throughout this period,” the embassy said in an email to American citizens.
“The US Embassy advises US citizens to monitor news reports, avoid areas where closures or protests are reported, and maintain low profiles in public,” it said.
The US warning follows similar advice from the Gulf states. The UAE, Qatar and Bahrain this weekend urged their citizens to stay away from Lebanon citing security concerns in the country.
Foreign ministries in the Gulf states appealed to citizens already in Lebanon to leave the country amid the “tense security situation”, official news agencies WAM, QNA and BNA said.
Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to Lebanon in April warned Saudis to exercise caution in Lebanon after two Saudi citizens were kidnapped and tortured for eight days. The two men were later freed.
Monday’s violence in Lebanon follows the killing of two members of a political alliance opposed to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad on Sunday in the north of the country. Residents in Akkar took to the streets to protest against the killing and demonstrations spread south to the main coastal highway and to Beirut.
The violence has raised fears of a repeat of sectarian unrest in 2008 that bought the country close to civil war.