A Lebanese court has sentenced to death a radical Sunni Muslim cleric for inciting attacks on the military. Sheikh Ahmad al-Assir, who had supporters protesting outside the courtroom had refused to recognize the hearing, was convicted for his part in inciting clashes that occurred in 2013, made worse by the war in neighboring Syria.

Assir rose to prominence supporting the mostly Sunni insurgents in Syria and condemning the backers of the Syrian government, including Lebanon’s Shi‘ite Muslim Hezbollah group.

Lebanese soldiers raided a mosque complex belonging to Assir in June 2013, after skirmishes between his supporters and opponents in the southern Mediterranean port city of Sidon.

The army said at least 18 soldiers died in fighting with Assir’s supporters, which raised fears at the time of sectarian violence spreading in Lebanon. (reut.rs/2xBmdx6)

Assir was arrested in 2015 after trying to leave the country with a false passport. He’d gone underground after the raid on his mosque complex.

Assir’s trial was delayed numerous times and he fired his legal representation which he refused to recognize. The court also found 30 more people guilty in absentia. Their sentences range from prison sentences to death as well. One interesting footnote to this trial is although Assir has been sentenced to death for his role in this incident, the country of Lebanon hasn’t executed anyone in more than 10 years.

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Photo courtesy Wikimedia

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