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MIDEAST > Syrian clashes spill over to Lebanon

TRIPOLI / DAMASCUS

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Lebanese gunmen take up position in the neighborhood of Bab al-Tebbaneh in Tripoli,
northern Lebanon. Clashes between Sunni and Alawite groups claim at least 8 lives. REUTERS photo

Lebanese gunmen take up position in the neighborhood of Bab al-Tebbaneh in Tripoli, northern Lebanon. Clashes between Sunni and Alawite groups claim at least 8 lives. REUTERS photo

Clashes across Syria have spilled over into neighboring Lebanon, and at least eight people have been killed in fighting between rival pro- and anti-Damascus gunmen in the city of Tripoli. In Syria, the army has staged a massive assault on parts of Damascus and the surrounding countryside, killing dozens and leaving many fearful residents trapped in their homes.

Two people were killed in the latest violence in Lebanon after a bloody day Aug. 21, which saw six people killed in street battles between gunmen from Sunni and Alawite groups whose rival districts are symbolically divided by a thoroughfare called Syria Street. The northern port city of Tripoli was tense yesterday, with armed men driving through the city and shooting rounds of live fire into the air.

PM’s concern

Prime Minister Najib Mikati, a native of Tripoli, voiced fresh concern at “efforts to drag Lebanon more and more into the conflict in Syria when what is required is for leaders to cooperate ... to protect Lebanon from the danger.” Lebanese 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.

In Syria, regime forces shelled two Damascus districts before troops backed by tanks swept through to carry out house-to-house raids in search of opposition fighters, killing at least 31 suspected rebels, activists said.

Around dawn yesterday, regime forces in Damascus rained mortars down on the upscale Kafar Soussa neighborhood and the adjacent Nahr Eishah area of the Syrian capital, activists said. Government troops appeared to be shelling the districts from Qasioun Mountain, overlooking the capital.

Meanwhile, in Syria’s second city, Aleppo, the army shelled several other rebel-held districts, including Shaar, Sakhur and Hanano in the east, activists said. Ten civilians were also killed in Deraa in southern Syria, the cradle of the uprising against President Bashar al-Assad’s regime.

August/23/2012

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