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Middle East

Clashes flare in Lebanese capital

Pro-Damascus gunmen clash with rivals in Beirut, in the latest apparent spillover of the conflict in neighbouring Syria.

Last updated: 23 Mar 2014 13:24
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A heavy deployment by the army brought a halt to the fighting [AFP]

Clashes have flared in Beirut between supporters and opponents of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, prompting the deployment of Lebanese troops to calm tensions.

Soldiers in armoured personnel carriers and Humvees fanned across the predominantly Sunni neighbourhood of Tariq Jadideh on Sunday morning.

The deployment came after rival Sunni gunmen exchanged gunfire and rocket-propelled grenades for several hours in the area, in the worst fighting in the Lebanese capital in nearly two years, the Associated Press news agency reported.

One person was killed and 10 people were wounded, according to Reuters news agency, citing security sources.

The fighting broke out before dawn between gunmen loyal to Shaker Berjawi, a Sunni Muslim who supports the Syrian Alawite president, and Sunni Muslims who back the three-year uprising against Assad's rule.

Residents heard the sound of gunfire and explosions coming from the Al-Gharbi district of southern Beirut, where Berjawi has an office.

Security sources named the dead man as Nabil Hannash. Several other people, including civilians, were wounded in the clashes.

According to Berjawi, who heads the Arab Movement Party, four of his followers were injured in the fighting.

The fighting in Beirut follows a week of sustained violence in the northern city of Tripoli, where 27 people have been killed in fighting between Assad supporters and opponents, which also sparked clashes with the Lebanese army.

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