Fighting in Syria spills over into Lebanon- 3 killed in skirmishes

Saturday, August 25, 2012
By Paul Martin
August 25, 2012

LEBANON – Clashes between pro- and anti-Syrian factions in the Lebanese city of Tripoli killed three people including a Sunni cleric, jeopardizing a fragile truce, a security official said. The deaths brought to 14 the number of people killed in factional fighting in the Mediterranean port city over the past five days linked to the conflict in neighboring Syria. A further 110 people have been wounded, most of them shot by snipers. A sniper killed Sunni cleric Sheikh Khaled al-Baradei, 28, at dawn, sparking the flare-up between fighters from the pro-Syrian Alawite district of Jabal Mohsen and anti-Damascus Sunni districts, an AFP correspondent reported. One person died of his wounds in the Sunni Qobbeh area. A third died in the adjacent Sunni Bab al-Tebbaneh district, the security official said. The militiamen exchanged rocket-propelled grenades and small arms fire in the two neighborhoods in the east of the city, Lebanon’s second largest, sparking several blazes, the correspondent reported. Families hammered holes through the walls of their apartments to escape to safety down makeshift ladders as the clashes raged. A journalist and a technician from Sky News Arabia were slightly hurt by stray bullets near the Sunni Bab al-Tebbaneh neighborhood, another scene of recent clashes on the city’s northern outskirts, medical sources said. Dozens of Sunni militiamen have encircled the Alawite district, with the army separating the rival gunmen, the correspondent said. The fighting continued until around 8:30 am (0530 GMT) when militiamen on both sides pulled back from the frontline, driving away on motorbikes, and a fragile calm returned. Six businesses in the city centre were later set ablaze — four Alawite-owned, one Sunni-owned, and the other a Christian-owned shop selling alcohol, the security official said. “We were surprised by this battle,” said Abu Othman, a gunman from the Sunni side. “They are the ones who opened fire, the Jabal Mohsen people.” Several families displaced by the fighting had returned to the two districts on Thursday to inspect the damage to their homes, as a truce agreed on Wednesday had appeared to take hold. –SBS


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