Advertisement

Hezbollah supporters clash with protesters in Lebanese capital

Click to play video: 'Protesters take to the streets of Lebanon amid ongoing unrest' Protesters take to the streets of Lebanon amid ongoing unrest
WATCH: Protesters take to the streets of Lebanon amid ongoing unrest – Nov 24, 2019

A group of Hezbollah supporters attacked demonstrators protesting against Lebanon’s political elite in central Beirut late Sunday, triggering confrontations as security forces separated the two sides.

The attacks by young men armed with clubs and metal rods chanting pro-Hezbollah slogans continued into the early hours of Monday as riot police and soldiers formed a human barrier preventing them from reaching the protesters.

READ MORE: Mystery grows as Trump administration withholds more than US$100 million in Lebanon aid

Groups of young men, including some women, threw stones at each other for hours. Several people were beaten and injured. At least one man held up a large yellow Hezbollah flag.

The attacks occurred after protesters blocked a major intersection known as the Ring Road that links eastern neighbourhoods of the capital with western parts. Protesters simultaneously closed roads in areas north of Beirut and in the eastern Bekaa Valley.

Story continues below advertisement

The confrontations and tension were some of the worst since protests erupted in Lebanon on Oct. 17, demanding an end to widespread corruption and mismanagement by the political class that has governed for three decades.

Click to play video: 'Lebanon protesters attack MP convoy on route to parliament' Lebanon protesters attack MP convoy on route to parliament
Lebanon protesters attack MP convoy on route to parliament – Nov 19, 2019

The protests forced the government of Prime Minister Saad Hariri to resign on Oct. 29, and politicians have failed to agree on a new Cabinet since, despite a rapidly deteriorating economic and financial crisis.

The leaderless protesters say they are blocking roads to exert pressure on politicians to form a new government.

Hezbollah supporters have attacked the main protest camp in central Beirut on at least two occasions, destroying tents set up by protesters.

READ MORE: Yes, there are more protests around the world — and here’s why

Story continues below advertisement

The leader of the Iran-backed Hezbollah, Hassan Nasrallah, has said the nationwide protests have been exploited by foreign powers and are no longer spontaneous. He has warned they could drag Lebanon toward civil war and says protesters must stop blocking roads and paralyzing the country.

The unprecedented nationwide protests were triggered by proposed new taxes, including on the use of the WhatsApp mobile app. They came on the heels of an austerity budget that cut public spending, pensions and employee benefits to tackle a deepening economic crisis.

They have since evolved into calls for the entire political class, of which Hezbollah is part, to leave.

Click to play video: 'Anti-government protests pour into Lebanon’s streets' Anti-government protests pour into Lebanon’s streets
Anti-government protests pour into Lebanon’s streets – Nov 17, 2019

Sponsored content