Sectarian clash rocks Lebanese city, kills 3

Sectarian clash rocks Lebanese city, kills 3

Sectarian clash rocks Lebanese city, kills 3

A Sunni gunman fires during a clash, in Lebanese city of Tripoli, on May 13. AP Photo

Sectarian violence linked to the unrest in neighboring Syria shook the northern Lebanese city of Tripoli yesterday, with the state news agency reporting that a soldier and two civilians were killed in the street clashes.

Residents say gunfire broke out in the city on May 12 and continued through the night, primarily between a neighborhood populated by Sunni Muslims against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and another area with al-Assad backers from his Alawite sect.

Lebanon’s national news agency NNA said one soldier had been shot dead by a sniper in the city early yesterday. Another man was found dead on the side of a road while a third died after a shell landed in a residential neighborhood.

 Al-Qaeda linked to Syrian intelligence

The head of the dissident Free Syrian Army said yesterday that al-Qaeda had links with the powerful air force intelligence of the al-Assad regime.

“If al-Qaeda militants have indeed entered the country, it happened with the cooperation of that agency,” FSA chief, Colonel Riyadh al-Asaad, told Kuwait’s Al-Rai newspaper. He also said he held the Syrian regime responsible for twin suicide bombings in Damascus that killed 55 people and wounded 372 on May 10 and called for an international investigation.

“If the (U.S.) information that al-Qaeda had entered Syria is accurate, the regime alone is responsible for their entry. We know that the al-Qaeda militants are linked to the Syrian air force intelligence,” al-Asaad said.

Al-Asaad also denied claims by Damascus that jihadist and Salafist groups were active in Syria. Al-Nusra Front, an Islamist group unknown before the Syrian revolt, released a video on May 10 claiming responsibility for the attacks as revenge for regime bombing of residential areas in several parts of the country.

On the ground, regime forces battled rebels and carried out raids across Syria yesterday in a surge of violence that killed 23 people, including five soldiers who died in gunfights with armed rebels in the southern province of Daraa, activists said. In central Hama province, five people were killed and 18 were wounded by gunfire, when regime forces raided the village of Al-Tamanaa Al-Ghab, according to activists.

The fresh wave of bloodletting came as the U.N. mission in Syria said it now had 189 military observers on the ground, nearly two-thirds of its planned strength of 300. “There are now 189 monitors on the ground,” Hassan Siklawi, a representative of the U.N. mission in Syria, said yesterday.

Compiled from AFP, AP stories by the Daily News staff.