Four dead in Lebanon clashes that echo Syria conflict
While much of the world’s attention is focused on the civil war in Syria, it is worth keeping a close eye on next-door Lebanon, where Iran- and Assad-allied Hizb’allah effectively exercises veto power over the government and in which the sectarian divisions that led to its own decades-long civil war remain bubbling just below the surface.
TRIPOLI, Lebanon (Reuters) - Four people were killed and more than 60 wounded in clashes between Sunni Muslims and Alawites in Lebanon’s northern city of Tripoli as the war in neighboring Syria inflamed tensions there again, security and medical sources said on Tuesday.
Gunmen in the Sunni district of Bab al-Tabbaneh and their Alawite rivals in Jebel Mohsen exchanged gun and grenade fire in sporadic fighting overnight and into the day, despite action by Lebanese troops deployed in the port city, residents said.
Two of the dead men were identified as residents of Jebel Mohsen, a hill inhabited mainly by Alawites which overlooks the predominantly Sunni area below, where two other people were killed, medical sources said.
The area is one of Lebanon’s most volatile sectarian fault lines and chronic Sunni-Alawite tensions in Tripoli have been heightened by the 17-month-old, mainly Sunni, uprising in Syria against President Bashar al-Assad, an Alawite. Clashes in the city killed 15 people in early June.
An army statement said soldiers had raided buildings used by gunmen and “retaliated swiftly against sources of gunfire”. It said five soldiers were wounded on Monday evening and that another five, including an officer, were injured on Tuesday by a hand grenade lobbed at an army base.
In addition, more than 35 civilians or fighters were wounded in Bab al-Tabbaneh and 15 in Jebel Mohsen, residents and medics said.
Lebanon’s Daily Star has been sounding the alarm over the government’s inability and/or unwillingness to act: