Syria-linked Lebanon clashes wound 28, kill 1

AFP and Reuters, Tuesday 21 Aug 2012

Fears foment of a Syrian conflict spill-over as officials and medics say clashes in Lebanon's Tripoli between Sunnis and Alawites leave 1 dead, 23 civilians and 5 soldiers wounded

Sunni Muslim gunmen fire their weapons in the Sunni Muslim dominant neighbourhood of Bab al-Tebbaneh in Tripoli, northern Lebanon, during clashes with residents of the largely Alawite area of Jabal Mohsen, Tuesday, (Photo: Reuters).

One person was killed and at least 28 people were wounded in running clashes between pro- and anti-Damascus regime supporters in Lebanon's second largest city of Tripoli, security and army officials said Tuesday.

Exchanges of gunfire erupted on Monday and continued through the night between the mainly Sunni district of Bab el-Tebbaneh and the largely Alawite area of Jabal Mohsen.

"Clashes are ongoing, and the army is currently intervening," a military official told AFP.

Several houses caught fire and cars were damaged in the fighting, which has added to fears that the conflict in Syria is increasingly spilling over into Lebanon, destabilising the already fragile security situation.

The dead man was identified by residents as Ahmed al-Farfour from Jebel Mohsen. Five soldiers, including an officer, were wounded when gunfire hit army patrols in the area, a military statement said, adding that the 23 other wounded were civilians.

The violence was centred around the aptly-named Syria Street, the symbolic "dividing line" between the rival Tripoli districts and many civilians have fled the area.

The Sunni-majority port city has been the scene of intense and sometimes deadly clashes between Sunni supporters of the anti-Syrian opposition and Alawite Muslims loyal to a Hezbollah-led alliance backed by Iran and Syria.

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, who is fighting an increasingly bloody 17-month uprising against his regime, hails from the Alawite community, an offshoot of Shiite Islam.

The revolt in Syria has exacerbated tensions in Lebanon, which lived under three decades of Syrian hegemony and remains deeply divided between supporters and opponents of Damascus.

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