Lebanon's Tripoli in the Grip of Sectarian Violence Over Syria

Created: 2013-05-24 14:45 EST


Gunmen were prowling through the Sunni district of Bab al Tabeneh in the coastal Lebanese city of Tripoli on Friday morning (May 24) after fighting between factions supporting rival groups in Syria's civil war.

Fighting on Wednesday night was the worst such bout of spillover violence since the conflict started two years ago. Around 5 people were killed and about 50 wounded after Sunni and Shi'ite Muslim gunmen fired mortar bombs and rocket-propelled grenades at each other in a fifth day of clashes in the coastal city, security sources said on Wednesday.

Syrian activists said the fighting in Tripoli was triggered by an assault on the Syrian border town of Qusair, where fighters from Lebanon's Shi'ite Hezbollah movement are helping Syrian government forces.

The Lebanese army deployed troops to patrol the two neighbourhoods where fighting erupted and the city was relatively quiet during Wednesday daytime, except for occasional sniper fire, residents said.

In the southern coastal city of Sidon, followers of a Sunni cleric blocked a funeral procession for a Hezbollah militant.

Lebanese soldiers tried to break the blockade, leading to an exchange of gunfire between the Islamist protesters and security forces, residents said. No injuries were reported. 

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