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Warlords of Tripoli (2014)

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Welcome to Tripoli, Lebanon's second-largest city and a town living on the brink of chaos. Tripoli's only an hour-drive north of the glittering boutiques and flash nightclubs in Beirut but it's a completely different world. Like neighboring Syria, Tripoli is a predominantly Sunni Muslim city in a battle with Alawite minority who support the Assad regime.

Just one street, ironically called Syria Street, separates the two warring communities. Now it looks like the conflict in Syria is threatening to spill over into Lebanon and Tripoli's ready to explode.

You can hear a celebratory gunfight as you come into the center of the city. Local Sunnis are celebrating the return of a prominent Sunni militia commander after months in exile. It's Eid al-Adha, the festival of sacrifice, one of the most important holidays in the Muslim calendar. But in Tripoli the celebrations are unusually muted. No one has any money and everyone's dreading the outbreak of major clashes between the Sunnis and Alawites.

Tensions between the two neighborhoods are higher than ever before. Even the smallest incident can spiral out of control, petting the two communities against each other in street battle. The war in Syria is pushing bordering Lebanon on the verge of the endless-war-horror-pit, and nowhere is the increasing anarchy more obvious than in the second city of Tripoli. The country's weak administration is obviously unable to stop this hostile street fighting.

With legislation no longer existent in Tripoli, warlords like Sunni commander Ziad Allouki are now the city's real kings, so VICE was socializing with him and his combatants for a while to find out why they're fighting, and whether the country really is on the brink of civil war.


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