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12 Lebanese Killed in Tripoli in Two Days of Syria-Fueled  Fighting

March 15-16, 2014


Soldier and civilian killed in clashes in Lebanon's Tripoli

TRIPOLI Sun Mar 16, 2014 9:48am EDT

(Reuters) -

A soldier and a civilian were killed in fighting between Sunni Muslims and Alawites in the northern Lebanese city of Tripoli, bringing the death toll from four days of clashes to 12, security and medical sources said.

The civilian was killed by sniper fire and the soldier when militants fired rocket-propelled grenades at two personnel carriers that had been dispatched to quell the violence on Saturday night.

Tensions between the Sunni Muslim majority and small Alawite community in Lebanon's second city have festered for decades, but the long-standing rivalry has worsened because of the sectarian war raging in neighbouring Syria, where a Sunni-led uprising is seeking to overthrow the Alawite president.

At least 70 people, including 17 Lebanese soldiers, have been wounded in clashes which broke out on Thursday after gunmen fatally shot a Sunni man who had Alawite relatives and lived in a mostly Alawite area of the city.

The fighting had eased up on Sunday but snipers were still operating around Syria Street, which separates the Alawite enclave of Jabal Mohsen from the Sunni district of Bab al-Tabbaneh.

(Reporting by Nazih Siddiq, Writing by Stephen Kalin, Editing by Angus MacSwan)

Death toll in Syria-fuelled fighting in Lebanon's Tripoli reaches 10

By Nazih Siddiq

TRIPOLI, Lebanon Sat Mar 15, 2014 1:34pm EDT

(Reuters) -

The death toll from three days of fighting between members of two Muslim sects in the northern Lebanese city of Tripoli rose to 10 on Saturday, security and medical sources said, in violence stoked by the civil war in neighboring Syria.

One person was killed by a sniper and four more died on Saturday from injuries sustained earlier in the week during clashes between Sunni Muslims and members of the Shi'ite-derived Alawite sect in Lebanon's second city.

The fighting broke out on Thursday after gunmen fatally shot a Sunni man who had Alawite family members and lived in a mostly Alawite area of the city. A 10-year-old girl died in the resulting clashes and three others died from their wounds the next day.

More than 50 people, including at least eight Lebanese soldiers, were wounded in clashes in which snipers and rocket-propelled grenades were used.

The fighting had subsided by Saturday following intervention by the army, but snipers from both sides were still operating around Syria Street, which separates the Alawite enclave of Jabal Mohsen from the Sunni district of Bab al-Tabbaneh.

The sources said most of those killed were civilians and that they were all Sunni Muslims, though one of them had lived in the Alawite neighborhood.

The long-standing rivalry between Tripoli's Alawites and Sunnis has worsened because of sectarian tensions in Syria, where the three-year-old conflict has killed more than 140,000 people.

Lebanese Sunnis largely support the Sunni-led uprising against President Bashar al-Assad, who tends to enjoy the backing of his fellow Alawites.

The periodic clashes in the coastal city have been fought with increasingly sophisticated weaponry, as rocket-propelled grenade launchers have been used alongside lighter weapons like assault rifles.

In another incident of spillover from the Syrian war, several rockets hit towns near Baalbek, a heavily Shi'ite area 55 km (35 miles) southeast of Tripoli and just a few kilometers from the Syrian border.

Lebanon's National News Agency said one man was killed in the village of Nabi Osmane, and two people were wounded in the town of Labwa.

A security source told Reuters the rockets came from across the border, where Syrian government forces advanced on the town of Yabroud, the last rebel bastion on the mountainous frontier.

(Additional reporting by Stephen Kalin in Beirut; Writing by Stephen Kalin; Editing by Raissa Kasolowsky/Rosalind Russell)

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