Hezbollah militants and their Shi’ite allies from the Amal group overran some predominantly Muslim districts in western Beirut in fighting yesterday. Offices linked to the governing coalition leader Saad al-Hariri and his party were the main targets.
The conflict intensified after Hezbollah’s spiritual leader, Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, gave a defiant response to the government’s action to outlaw its communications system. He described the move as “a declaration of war”.
Hariri has proposed a deal to end the violence under which government decisions that angered Hezbollah would be considered a “misunderstanding”. Hezbollah, however, is demanding that such decisions be rescinded entirely.
Hezbollah, which is backed by Iran and Syria, has led a 17-month-long political campaign against Prime Minister Fouad Siniora’s anti-Syrian cabinet.