Lebanon violence escalating from Syrian tensions
Twelve people have been killed and dozens wounded in Lebanon’s northern city of Tripoli in clashes between supporters and opponents of the Syrian regime, local media reports.
Reuters news service reports that machine-guns and rocket-propelled grenades were used in the fighting which stated on Saturday continued into the early hours of Sunday.
The army moved into the area with armoured vehicles in an attempt to quell the violence.
Among the dead were a woman and her son, killed by a rocket in the Bab al-Tabanneh district, a mostly Sunni Muslim community which supports Syria’s opposition, a security official said.
At least five were wounded in Jabal Mohsen, an area mainly populated by Alawites who support Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Residents of the neighbouring districts have clashed repeatedly in recent weeks, but Saturday’s death toll is the highest in a single day in Tripoli.
“Over recent months, people have been warning that the crisis in Syria was going to spill over into the country,” Al Jazeera’s Zeina Khodr, reporting from the capital, Beirut, said.
“It actually has spilled over, and it’s becoming a dangerous reality.
“Ceasefires have come and gone but without a political consensus, it’s likely that we’ll see more clashes.
Prime Minister Najib Makati held a meeting with security officials and politicians in city on Saturday night, which ended with a statement calling on the army and security forces to quell the unrest.
The interior ministry said a plan was being drawn up to deploy army and internal security forces in the flashpoint neighbourhoods.
Several people were killed in similar clashes in May. The frontline of the deadly street battles was Syria Street, which divides the rival neighbourhoods.
Supporters of Assad allege that Bab al-Tabbaneh is an operational base of the Free Syrian Army, the armed opposition group seeking to overthrow the government.
The Lebanese opposition backs the revolt in Syria while a ruling coalition led by Hezbollah supports the Damascus leadership.