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Hezbollah Places Beirut Stronghold Under Security Lockdown

Following two major bombings in Hezbollah’s stronghold in Beirut, the group has placed the area under security lockdown.
By Elad Benari
First Publish: 8/28/2013, 6:12 AM

Hezbollah flag
Hezbollah flag
AFP photo

Following two major bombings in Hezbollah’s largest stronghold in Beirut in less than two months, the group has decided to place the area under security lockdown, Al-Monitor reported Tuesday.

According to the report, the group has set up checkpoints, with explosives detection devices and bomb-sniffing dogs at all entrances linking it to Beirut.

Under these procedures, an unnamed correspondent in Beirut reported, every car entering the southern suburbs has to spend nearly two hours before being able to cross the checkpoints set up by Hezbollah.

Informed sources revealed that the plan to lock down Beirut’s southern suburbs was ready a long time ago. It was planned as an exceptional measure that would be implemented on the ground once the group felt that there is an external decision to wage a security war against its positions and to terrorize the areas of its popular base.

The move to place Hezbollah’s areas under security lockdown represents the highest level of protection the party has planned for in order to face the most difficult security and political scenarios that might threaten it.

At least 20 people were killed on August 15 by a large explosion in the Hezbollah stronghold in Beirut. A month earlier, over 50 people were wounded when a car bomb exploded in the same area.

A previously unknown Sunni Islamist group took credit for the August bombing in an online video showing three masked men, two of them holding rifles.

"You, the pig Hassan Nasrallah, we send you our second powerful message because you haven't understood yet," said one member of the group, which called itself the Company of Aisha Umm al-Muminin, the Prophet Mohammed's favorite wife.

According to Al-Monitor, the plan to lock down the southern suburbs of Beirut, where nearly one million residents live, has been in effect for more than two weeks.

Under the security lockdown, these residents feel that they live in a locked-down fortress, something that raises conflicting feelings. First is the compulsion to endorse this measure, given that it is the most effective way to prevent the tragedy of car bombs from being repeated. Yet, this feeling of being protected is combined with a feeling of being isolated and living in "a locked-down ghetto" or "a big prison," suggesting that the aspects of a normal life are decreasing.

Most of the southern suburbs’ citizens interviewed by Al-Monitor showed resentment when asked if they think the lockdown will last for long. Underlying this answer are feelings of loss of trust in the future and uncertainty as to their lost security.

The attacks on Hezbollah are widely seen as revenge against the for its role in the civil war in Syria.

Initially Hezbollah said it wanted only to defend 13 Syrian villages along the border where Lebanese Shiites live, and the Sayyeda Zeinab shrine near Damascus, which is revered by Shiites around the world.

However, its terrorists later encircled Qusayr with regime troops before the launch of a withering assault on the strategic border town. Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah has promised that his group will be wherever is needed in Syria and, following the August bombing in the group’s stronghold, declared he was willing to go fight in Syria himself.

“I will go myself to Syria if it is so necessary in the battle against the takfiris, Hezbollah and I will go to Syria” to fight rebels trying to oust the Damascus regime, Nasrallah said.