‘Absurd battle’ rocks Lebanon’s Tripoli
At least five people were killed, including a child, and 43 wounded in clashes between pro- and anti-Damascus regime supporters in north Lebanon yesterday, security and army officials said.
Two people were killed in Bab el-Tebbaneh, the mainly Sunni district of the northern port of Tripoli, and three died in the largely Alawite area of Jabal Mohsen in the city, a security official said.
Ten soldiers were wounded, as were 33 civilians, both Sunni and Alawite, officials said, while a 13-year-old boy was among those killed.
“The clashes are continuing,” an army spokesman said in the early evening, while the military said in a statement that soldiers were “chasing gunmen and have seized a quantity of guns, bombs and ammunition”.
The fighting erupted late on Monday in Tripoli, home to a Sunni community hostile to the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and a community of Alawites, an offshoot of Shiite Islam to which the Syrian leader belongs.
The clashes come days after a wave of kidnappings targeting Syrians in Lebanon, which lived under three decades of Syrian hegemony and remains deeply divided between supporters and opponents of Damascus.
Prime Minister Najib Mikati warned against the “absurd battle” rocking his hometown, Lebanon’s second largest city.
“We have repeatedly warned against being drawn into this blaze that has spread around Lebanon,” he said of the violence in Syria. “But it is clear that several parties wanted to push Lebanon into the conflict.”
Mr Mikati pleaded with Tripoli residents “not to allow anyone to transform you into ammunition for someone else’s war”.
He called on the security forces to “do their utmost to stop this absurd battle”.