Firing assault rifles and rocket-propelled grenades, Lebanese gunmen clashed in street battles Monday as sectarian tensions linked to the 14-month-old uprising in Syria bled across the border for a third day.The ceasefire deal that had been brokered by the UN isn't working, and the body count continues rising. Not that there's much else that the UN can do when Russia and China are shielding Bashar al-Assad from any actions stronger than a harshly worded letter.
At least five people have been killed and 100 wounded in Lebanon's second-largest city since the gunbattles erupted late Saturday, security officials said. Residents say differences over Syria are at the root of the fighting, which pits neighbor against neighbor and raises fears of broader unrest that could draw in neighboring countries.
Lebanon and Syria share a complex web of political and sectarian ties and rivalries, which are easily enflamed. Tripoli has seen bouts of sectarian violence in the past, but the fighting has become more frequent as the conflict in Syria worsens.
The battle lines break down along sectarian and political lines. On the one side are Sunni Muslims who support the rebels trying to oust Syrian President Bashar Assad. On the other are members of the tiny Alawite sect, followers of an offshoot of Shiite Islam who are Assad's most loyal supporters.
The recent clashes were sparked by the arrest of Lebanese national Shadi Mawlawi, an outspoken critic of Assad. The Sunni fighters say the root of the latest conflict in Tripoli is across the border.
"Syria. It wants it this way. It wants to start a battle here so it can say, look, even in Lebanon the Sunnis are killing the Alawites," said Mustafa Nashar, 35, whose family lives in an apartment overlooking Syria Street, which cuts through the overwhelmingly Sunni Bab al-Tabbani neighborhood.
Monday, May 14, 2012
Syrian Revolt Spills Into Lebanon Once Again
For the third consecutive day, fighting in Syria has spilled over into Lebanon, and the casualties continue to mount on both sides of the border: