Snipers open fire in Lebanon clashes

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iol news pic Lebanon snipers

REUTERS

Lebanese Army soldiers patrol the Sunni Muslim Bab al-Tebbaneh neighbourhood in Tripoli, northern Lebanon December 7, 2012. Five men were killed in the Lebanese port city of Tripoli on Thursday during sectarian clashes between gunmen loyal to opposing sides in neighbouring Syria's civil war, residents said. REUTERS/Omar Ibrahim

Tripoli, Lebanon -

Snipers in the north Lebanese city of Tripoli on Friday fired across a street-turned-frontline that divides two districts wracked by deadly sectarian clashes, an AFP correspondent said.

On Tuesday, intermittent clashes erupted in between the city's Bab al-Tebbaneh and Jabal Mohsen districts, pitting Sunnis against Alawites belonging to the same religious community as Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

A total of 13 people Ä including a 13-year-old and an 11-year-old Äwere shot dead by snipers across Syria Street dividing the neighbourhoods.

The majority of Tripoli's residents are Sunni Muslim and support the anti-Assad revolt in neighbouring Syria. A minority of Alawites support the regime, and fear potential sectarian violence should Assad fall.

Tensions in Tripoli, Lebanon's second city, remained high on Friday as snipers held their positions, occasionally opening fire.

The death toll reached 11 by Thursday evening, while two other civilians were killed overnight, a security official said.

“The fighting on Thursday night continued until 4:00 am (0200 GMT) on Friday, and it was the worst in the past few days,” the official told AFP on condition of anonymity.

At 6:00 am on Friday, the army deployed troops in restive areas of the port city.

Lebanon is deeply divided over Syria. The Shiite movement Hezbollah, its allies and supporters bitterly oppose the revolt, while the Sunni-led March 14 movement backs it.

Lebanon was dominated politically and militarily by Syria for nearly 30 years, until the 2005 assassination of former premier Rafiq Hariri sparked international outrage and forced a Syrian pull-out.

Near daily clashes in border areas inside Syria pit Shiite residents who support Hezbollah against anti-Assad rebels, residents and activists say.

The American embassy in Beirut on Friday called via Twitter for stability in Lebanon.

“The US remains committed to a stable, sovereign and independent Lebanon,” it said. “We call on all parties to exercise restraint and respect for Lebanon’s stability and security.” - Sapa-AFP


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