2 die in Lebanon violence

2012-12-09 08:25

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Tripoli -Two people were killed and six wounded in the north Lebanese city of Tripoli after midnight on Saturday amid sectarian clashes linked to the conflict in neighbouring Syria, a security official said.

Fighting with machine guns and rockets erupted between residents of the impoverished districts of Bab al-Tebbaneh and Jabal Mohsen, pitting Sunnis against Alawites belonging to the same religious community as Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

The fatal shooting of two Jabal Mohsen men overnight broke a tense calm that had held since Friday morning, when the army deployed troops in restive areas of the port city as snipers held their positions.

"Troops are stationed in the side streets of Bab al-Tebbaneh and Jabal Mohsen but not on the road dividing them," the official said, adding that "the army probably won't get reinforcements until (Sunday) morning".

The victims were among 15 people, including two children, killed since Tuesday in rival districts of Lebanon's second city.

An already shaky situation in Tripoli escalated mid-week when a group of 22 Sunni Muslims from the city were killed by the Syrian army after crossing the border to join the rebellion being waged largely by their co-religionists.

The majority of Tripoli's residents are Sunni Muslim and support the anti-Assad revolt in Syria. A minority of Alawites, an offshoot of Shi'ite Islam, back the Syrian regime and fear potential sectarian violence should Assad fall.

Lebanon is deeply divided over Syria. The Shi'ite movement Hezbollah, its allies and supporters bitterly oppose the revolt, while the Sunni-led March 14 movement backs it.

Near daily clashes in border areas inside Syria pit Shiite residents who support Hezbollah against anti-Assad rebels, residents and activists say.

Read more on:    hezbollah  |  lebanon  |  syria  |  syrian protests
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