RIYADH, May 23 – Saudi King Abdullah voiced fear over targeting the Sunni community in Lebanon and urged action to avert a sectarian strife resulting from a spillover of the conflict in neighbouring Syria.
The kingdom “follows with deep concerns the developments in Tripoli (in north Lebanon), especially the targeting of one of the main sects of Lebanon,” he said in reference to co-religionist Sunnis, in a phone call with Lebanese President Michel Sleiman, SPA state news agency reported late Tuesday.
He called on Sleiman to act “due to the gravity of the crisis and its potential to escalate into a sectarian conflict in Lebanon, dragging it back into the spectre of civil war.”
Abdullah urged Sleiman to act within the framework of his efforts to “dissociate Lebanon from external conflicts, especially the crisis in neighbouring Syria,” SPA said.
It said the leader of the Sunni heavyweight also urged Lebanese parties to “give priority to the interest of Lebanon over all other factional interests, and that of external parties that do not want good for Lebanon or the Arab region in general.”
Tension has heightened in Lebanon over the past 10 days amid clashes between factions supporting the Syrian regime of President Bashar al-Assad and others backing the Syrian rebellion.
A Sunni cleric known for supporting Syrian rebels and refugees was shot dead Sunday along with a companion by the Lebanese army in northern Lebanon in a vague incident that is being investigated by authorities.
The killing triggered a wave of Sunni protests in several parts of the multi-confessional nation.