Lebanon’s Tripoli Fears Escalation of Syria Spillover
Residents of two rival neighbourhoods in the northern Lebanese city of Tripoli cowered in fear on Monday as fresh sectarian clashes erupted linked to the unrest in neighbouring Syria.
“I am hiding to protect my three kids,” said Fatima Ali, 29, who was among three women and 15 children sheltered in the back of a house in Bab al-Tebbaneh, an impoverished area of the port city populated mainly by Sunni Muslims opposed to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s regime.
Her 11-year-old daughter Aisha appeared terrified at the sounds of heavy gunfire and rocket-propelled grenades exploding outside.
“I’m really scared,” said the bespectacled girl in a low voice. “My tummy hurts, my head hurts and I am shaking. Every time a shell explodes, I scream.”
Bab al-Tebbaneh sits opposite Jabal Mohsen, where the majority of residents are from the minority Alawite sect, an offshoot of Shiite Islam to which Assad’s family belongs.
Tension between the two neighbourhoods has been rife for years and has come to a head several times since the revolt against Assad’s regime broke out in March 2011.