At least four people have been killed, and another 24 injured, after fighting erupted overnight in the Lebanese city of Tripoli between residents loyal to Syrian dictator Assad and those supportive of the Syrian opposition. Rocket-propelled grenades and automatic rifles were used in the fighting in an Alawite enclave and surrounding Sunni neighborhoods in the port city, 70km north of Beirut, the capital. The clashes peaked at dawn. A sniper shot dead a Lebanese soldier while he was inside a car in Tripoli early on Sunday morning. Clashes broke out on Saturday night between the army and a group of young Muslims, who were demonstrating in Tripoli for the release of an arrested "terrorism" suspect. Gunfire first erupted between the Muslims and the army as the youths, sympathizers with the ongoing revolt in Syria, tried to approach the offices of the pro- Assad Syrian Social Nationalist Party. About 100 young men, mostly Muslims, blocked the northern and southern roads into Tripoli, setting up camp at the southern entrance of Lebanon's second city. Black flags bearing the words "God is Great" were planted alongside the Syrian flag of independence, a symbol of uprising in the neighboring country. "We will not leave until my brother is released," said Nizar al-Mawlawi, whose 27-year-old brother Shadi was arrested by Lebanese security forces. According to a statement from the security services, Shadi al-Mawlawi was arrested as part of an "investigation into his ties to a terrorist organization". The fighting underlines how tensions in Syria could spill over to neighboring Lebanon. Clashes are common between the Alawites, the same sect that Assad belongs to, and Sunnis in Tripoli. Tripoli has become a hotbed for the Syrian opposition over the past few months. That reports have indicated that they have set up base there, that they have their activists who work there and there have been accusations of weapons been smuggled into Syria from Tripoli.
Source: Agencies Kavkaz Center
Publication time: 14 May 2012, 08:18
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