With clouds of smoke, rocks, and glass, the anticipated June 6th protest took a violent turn on Saturday afternoon.
After maintaining it for some time, the sizeable demonstration lost its reasonably peaceful aspect after counter-protesters invaded the scene and clashed with their counterparts, The Daily Star reported.
As the numbers on each side grew, so did the intensity of the violent encounters.
The scene was very much similar to the daily protests that took place on October 17th and onwards.
Some time into the escalations, the Lebanese Army was deployed to aid the riot police in securing the areas encompassed by the violence. They formed a human shield between the opposing sides, which exchanged rocks and political chants.
The Martyrs’ Square demonstration of Saturday afternoon was the first of its size since the pandemic hit Lebanon in February and temporarily paralyzed the country.
Tear gas pellets, rubber bullets, rocks, and shattered glasses from the vandalized storefronts were all over as the brawls between protesters and counter-protesters, on one hand, and security forces and both sides, on the other, shook the Square.
Over the course of the familiar hours-long chaos, the Lebanese Red Cross, which had dispatched its emergency teams to Downtown Beirut early on Saturday, was picking up casualties left and right.
As of the time of writing, the LRC has reported a total of 48 injuries resulting from the violence, 11 of which were hospitalized while the rest were treated on the spot.
All the while, the Lebanese Army and security forces worked to disperse the protesters from Martyrs’ Square, and they successfully pushed some to Riad Al-Solh Square and the areas in its proximity.
Some occasional fights broke out in the perimeter of the Parliament building after protesters had reached it from their original gathering place.
The first major clash took place near the Ring Bridge, where supporters of Hezbollah and Amal attempted to meet the demonstrators head-on, only to be blocked by the security forces and the Army.
The counter-protesters were provoked by some recurring calls for the disarmament of Hezbollah, in accordance with the U.N Security Council Resolution 1559; a demand that a portion of the demonstrators opposed.
Notably, the Lebanese Forces and Kataeb parties, which are a couple of the latter parties’ political opponents, had previously made it known that they would be participating in these protests.
Indeed, their presence was clear from the chants and music that they used during the protests.
By Saturday night, the Army and riot police were able to take control and restore relative stability to the areas of conflict, which had extended to several areas in Beirut over the hours.