The ninth day of protests in Beirut witnessed tension for the second consecutive day after Hezbollah supporters clashed with demonstrators who have been holding a sit-in in the capital’s central district demanding the government’s resignation and an end to rampant corruption.
Hezbollah supporters descended against on Friday on Riad al-Solh square near the Grand Serail to express their rejection to slogans against their leader, but they clashed with demonstrators and riot police that were deployed en masse in the area.
Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah spoke shortly after his supporters clashed with protesters, calling on them to leave anti-government protests to avoid friction.
Even after his televised speech ended, Nasrallah’s supporters continued their assault on protesters but riot police were finally able to remove them from Riad al-Solh square and the abutting Martyrs Square.
The show of force continued when Hezbollah supporters held rallies in the party’s stronghold in Beirut’s southern suburbs and other areas, including Tyre, Nabatiyeh, the Bekaa Valley and Hermel.
During the rallies, they expressed support to Nasrallah, rejecting that demonstrators equate him with corrupt politicians.
Lebanese protesters have set up tents, blocking traffic in main thoroughfares and sleeping in public squares mainly in Beirut's Riad al-Solh and Martyrs Square to enforce a civil disobedience campaign and keep up the pressure on the government to step down.
The unprecedented mass protests come amid a deepening economic crisis in Lebanon.