Fighting continues in Tripoli, 19 killed since Tuesday

Lebanese mourners carry the coffin of Khodr Mustafa Alameddine, who was among a group of Sunni Muslims reportedly killed by the Syrian army after they crossed into Syria to fight alongside rebels, during his funeral in Minieh in northern Lebanon on 9 December 2012. (Photo: AFP - Ibrahim Chalhoub)

Published Sunday, December 9, 2012

Updated 3:07pm: Six were killed and 40 wounded in heavy clashes Sunday in Lebanon's second largest city according to Al-Akhbar's correspondent in Tripoli.

Residents of the neighborhood of Bab al-Tebbaneh exchanged machine gun and rocket fire with their neighbors in Jabal Mohsen leaving two members of each community dead during predawn clashes. Two others were killed later in the day.

A rocket attack also hit a Lebanese Army outpost in Jabal Mohsen.

The fighting broke a tense calm that had held since the army deployed troops between the two impoverished neighborhoods early on Friday.

During the night, troops held their positions on side streets but did not approach the Syria Street frontline.

"The clashes are light now," the a security official said on Sunday morning, adding that no decision had yet been taken on whether to send in more troops.

Al-Akhbar's correspondent said there was no way to know when the newest round of fighting would end.

The latest deaths brought the toll from fighting in the city since Tuesday to 19, including two children.

The sectarian conflict between the mostly Sunni Bab al-Tebanneh and Alawi Jabal Mohsen has gone on since at least since the outbreak of Lebanon's 1975 civil war between supporters and opponents of the Syrian regime.

Tensions have risen dramatically in Tripoli since the start of the Syrian civil war. At least 80 people have killed during eight rounds of clashes between the neighborhoods since June 2011.

The latest outbreak of violence was sparked when news broke that 14 Sunni Muslim Lebanese and Palestinian gunmen from the area were killed by the Syrian army one week ago in a Syrian border town. The men were said to have joined the armed insurgency against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Militants from northern Lebanon had long been suspected of entering neighboring Syria to join the rebels in fighting.

(Al-Akhbar, AFP, Reuters)

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