BEIRUT, October 25 (RIA Novosti) - Lebanese Armed Forces began a massive mopping-up operation to root out the Islamic State (IS)-linked armed groups in Tripoli, the second-largest city in Lebanon.
"[Lebanese army] is carrying out raids to apprehend armed men and to refer them to the concerned judicial authorities," the Lebanese Army Command said in a statement as quoted by the local LBC TV channel. The statement said that the militants "are seeking to destabilize the situation in Tripoli and create sectarian strife."
According to the statement, the Lebanese Army units are deployed Tripoli's al-Zahrieh area and in the old markets of al-Nahhasin, al-Arid, al-Samak as well as in the Syriac Church's neighborhood.
According to LBC the clashes between the armed forces and the militants began Friday evening, after the army arrested Ahmed Salim Mikati, one of the militant leaders, and more than ten of his allies. During one day of clashes, one civilian and two military men were killed and at least 14 people were wounded.
Lebanese Health Minister Wael Abu Faour commanded all the Tripoli hospitals to accept wounded civilians and treat them at government's expense.
Tripoli has experienced episodes of clashes between Sunni militants and the Lebanese Alawite Shiite minority following the spillover of the civil war in Syria in 2011 into Lebanon.
Local Islamist militants which are reportedly linked to Islamic State (IS) and Jabhat al-Nusra terrorist groups regularly attack army patrols and block roads.
Although the IS does not control territory in Lebanon, the militant group occupies areas in remote eastern Lebanese mountains from where it launches attacks.