[QODLink]
Middle East
Sectarian clashes continue in Lebanon
Fighting between pro- and anti-Damascus groups in northern city of Tripoli leave at least 15 people dead so far.
Last Modified: 23 Aug 2012 16:11

Clashes have erupted for a fourth day in Lebanon's northern city of Tripoli, breaching a truce agreed by local political leaders less than 24 hours earlier in a bid to halt fighting prompted by tensions in neighbouring Syria.

The sectarian clashes began on Thursday after armed men in a nearby Sunni area shot dead an Alawite man. Nine others were wounded in the subsequent fighting.

At least 13 people have died and more than a hundred have been wounded in fighting this week between rival pro- and anti-Damascus fighters, reflecting sectarian faultlines that have emerged in Syria's conflict.

Syria's majority Sunni Muslim population has been the backbone of the revolt against President Bashar al-Assad, whose minority Alawite sect has mostly stood with him.

Sunni-Alawite tensions have not only been growing in Syria but in parts of Lebanon as well, like Tripoli, where the two groups live in neighbouring districts.

The army deployed troops and tanks on the streets on Thursday morning to calm the streets and clashes appeared to die down in most areas, residents said.

Residents say political leaders in the city agreed a ceasefire on Wednesday but that when direct clashes, sniping by both sides has continued.

Ten Lebanese soldiers have been wounded in efforts to stop the violence in Tripoli this week. A previous round of fighting in June killed 15 people.

Alarming concerns

The violence in Tripoli, Lebanon's second largest city, has seen machine guns and anti-tank rockets being fired.

Najib Mikati, the Lebanese prime minister who is a native of Tripoli himself, raised fresh concern on Wednesday over "efforts to drag Lebanon more and more into the conflict in Syria when what is required is for leaders to co-operate ... to protect Lebanon from the danger".


Ashraf al-Meqdad, al-Meqdad family member in Australia, says the kidnapping was part of a soured drug deal

The authorities have instructed the army and security forces "to bring the situation under control, to prohibit any armed presence and to arrest those implicated" in the violence, he said in a statement.

Later an army statement said: "Due to the gravity of the situation and in order to prevent attempts of dragging the whole of Lebanon into a state of unrest... the army command announces it will enter into dialogue with the city's leaders and officials, particularly in Bab al-Tebbaneh and Jabal Mohsen."

France and United States have expressed concern over the latest flare-up and warned against a spillover of the Syrian conflict.

The latest unrest in Tripoli, which has been the scene of several deadly incidents over the past year, follows a wave of tit-for-tat kidnappings of Lebanese citizens in Syria and of Syrians living in Lebanon.

Last week, an armed Lebanese Shia clan claimed it had kidnapped around 20 Syrians in retaliation for the abduction of a family member by a Syrian rebel group, which accused him of being a sniper with the Shia movement Hezbollah.

Hezbollah, considered Lebanon's most powerful military force, has denied any connection with the clan member or the kidnappings.

Meanwhile, the opposition Syrian National Council has accused authorities of failing to act over the attacks and implicitly blamed Hezbollah which heads a ruling coalition in Lebanon.

616

Source:
Al Jazeera and agencies
Topics in this article
People
Country
City
Organisation
Featured on Al Jazeera
'Justice for All' demonstrations swell across the US over the deaths of African Americans in police encounters.
Six former Guantanamo detainees are now free in Uruguay with some hailing the decision to grant them asylum.
Disproportionately high number of Aboriginal people in prison highlights inequality and marginalisation, critics say.
Nearly half of Canadians have suffered inappropriate advances on the job - and the political arena is no exception.
Featured
Women's rights activists are demanding change after Hanna Lalango, 16, was gang-raped on a bus and left for dead.
Buried in Sweden's northern forest, Sorsele has welcomed many unaccompanied kids who help stabilise a town exodus.
A look at the changing face of North Korea, three years after the death of 'Dear Leader'.
While some fear a Muslim backlash after café killings, solidarity instead appears to be the order of the day.
Victims spared by the deadly disease are reporting blindness and other unexpected post-Ebola health issues.