Hezbollah-led opposition supporters continued anti-government protests today, blocking roads in the Lebanese capital and forcing the country's only international airport to close in a serious escalation of a long-running political crisis.
All eyes were on Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah, who was due to hold a news conference via video link later in the day in response to government measures earlier in the week against his Shiite Muslim militant group.
Army and riot police manned checkpoints throughout the city and blocked several roads while many schools and businesses in the capital remained shut for the second straight day.
Armed men, some hooded or masked, were seen in several areas of Beirut.
Protesters burned tyres and lit fires inside large metal rubbish bins along the airport road, which remained shut by large mounds of earth dumped by Hezbollah supporters yesterday when a general strike escalated into violence.
An airport official told AFP that all incoming and outgoing flights had been cancelled until noon (1430 IST), but it was unclear whether normal traffic would resume after that.
"All flights between midnight and noon were cancelled, and then we will see what happens," said the official, who did not wish to be named.
Armed clashes meanwhile erupted in Saadnayel, near the eastern town of Chtaura, between government loyalists and opposition supporters, a security official told AFP.