This is from Al Jazeera. The government has put itself in a difficult position after challenging Hezbollah. Peace in Lebanon depends upon accomodation with Hezbollah. Perhaps the U.S. or other western nations are pressing the government to weaken Hezbollah but this action may provoke civil war. Already it has put part of Beirut under control of Hezbollah. Perhaps negotiations can work something out before events get out of control.
Hezbollah in control of west Beirut
At least 11 people were killed as clashes intensify in Beirut [Reuters]
Clashes have again erupted on the streets of Beirut, the Lebanese capital, as Hezbollah takes control of large areas of the capital from groups loyal to the government following gun battles.
The building of Future TV network, owned by Saad Hariri, a prominent pro-government politician, was set alight in continued violence on Friday.
The street battles, which first erupted on Wednesday, have so far left at least 11 people dead and 20 others wounded.Lebanese troops began taking up positions in some neighbourhoods in west Beirut abandoned by the pro-government groups.
The army has largely avoided getting involved in the street battles amid fears of being dragged into the conflict.
Earlier in the day, a rocket-propelled grenade struck the fence of the heavily protected residence of Saad Hariri in the suburb of Koreitem, a Muslim area of western Beirut.
Hariri, leader of the Future bloc, the biggest party in Lebanon's governing coalition,was believed to be inside at the time but unhurt.
Earlier, armed men loyal to Hezbollah forced Future News, the news channel of the Future group, off the air in Beirut.
"Armed gunmen surrounded the building, stormed into the garage and demanded that the army shut down the station," a senior TV official said.
Future group targeted
Security sources said Hezbollah and fighters from the allied Amal movement - both Shia groups - had overrun offices of Hariri's Future group across the predominantly Muslim western half of the Lebanese capital.
The headquarters of the Future group's Al-Mustaqbal daily was also surrounded by fighters firing rocket-propelled grenades, setting fire to one floor, its managing editor said.
Nadim Munla, the general manager of Future TV, told Al Jazeera that masked armed men entered the control rooms and cut off the cables.
"We have been effectively prevented from broadcasting and doing our jobs as media professionals," he said."Hezbollah ... have proven that the gun is stronger than the value of the opinion. We have only one thing left - free speech, and their guns will not silence us."
Lebanese troops evacuated the staff of the TV station's terrestrial and satellite studios in the Kantari area of western Beirut.
Meanwhile, in a statement seen as politically significant, Michel Aoun, a Christian leader allied with the Hezbollah-led opposition, has said that normalcy should be restored on the streets."The derailed carriage is now back on track. We hope from this point that things will fall back into the normal course [of events]," he said on Friday.Aoun said that he had sent a letter to Ban Ki-moon, the UN secretary-general, and various member states of the UN Security Council, but "did not find a clear response to avert the crisis".
Reports have also emerged that the Saudi ambassador to Lebanon advised Fouad Siniora, the Lebanese prime minister, to step down.
Al Jazeera's Rula Amin, reporting from Beirut, said: "This is a significant move considering that the Saudi government is a staunch supporter of the ruling coalition in Beirut.
Opposition fighters took rapid controlof many suburbs [AFP]"The Saudis see this as a dangerous situation that can escalate rapidly."Amin also conducted an exclusive interview with Walid Jumblatt, head of the Progressive Socialist Party, member of parliament, and leader of the country's Druze community.She said that Jumblatt did not regret his backing to remove the head of the country's airport security, whom the government accuses of being too close to Hezbollah."Jumblatt did not anticipate such a strong response from Hezbollah, and he is resigned to the fact that the group is much stronger than other armed militias," she said."He also said that the government should have undertaken these moves earlier, but predicts that the fighting will end soon."
In several neighbourhoods across the capital, automatic rifle fire could be heard in the worst domestic fighting since the 1975-90 civil war. Hezbollah also took control of all roads leading to Beirut's international airport, Lebanon's only air link to the outside world.
According to Elie Zakhour, a port official, Beirut's sea port was also shut down "until further notice" because of the situation, Lebanon's state-run National News Agency reported.
Tension between the government and Hezbollah escalated when the cabinet said the group's private phone network was illegal and an attack on the country's sovereignty.
Hezbollah said it was infuriated by government allegations it was spying on Beirut airport and by the cabinet's decision to fire the head of airport security.
Call for restraint
The fighting has prompted urgent appeals for calm from the international community.
Saudi Arabia and Egypt called for an urgent meeting of Arab foreign ministers to try to halt the violence.
"An emergency meeting of Arab foreign ministers in Cairo to discuss the crisis will be held in two days," Hossam Zaki, the Egyptian foreign ministery spokesman, said.
The UN Security Council also called for "calm and restraint", urging all sides to return to peaceful dialogue.
Syria said the dispute in Lebanon was an "internal affair" and expressed hope the feuding parties would find a solution through dialogue.