Ten people were killed and more than 31 people were injured in renewed clashes between the Jabal Mohsen and Bab al-Tabbaneh neighborhoods of the northern city of Tripoli, Beirut media reported on Saturday.
Among the dead were a woman and her son, killed by a rocket in the Bab al-Tebanneh district, a mostly Sunni Muslim community which supports Syria’s anti-regime opposition.
At least five were wounded in Jabal Mohsen, an area mainly populated by pro-Damascus Alawites.
According to MTV a meeting was held at al-Mustaqbal MP Mohammed Kabbara’s residence in Tripoli with security leaders and the city’s MPs in an attempt to end the clashes.
Smoke was seen billowing from several apartments near the city’s Syria street, the split between Bab Tabbaneh neighborhood and the adjacent, Jabal Mohsen, on a hill overlooking its rival. The area around Syria Street was mostly empty and gunmen were seen roaming the streets.
A security meeting at the Serail of Tripoli, chaired by head of the Tripoli’s gendarmerie, Brig. Gen. Bassam Ayoubi, agreed on the deployment of the internal security forces in the two neighborhoods.
However, they failed to maintain a ceasefire in the area.
The overnight battles with Rocket Propelled Grenades and machineguns calmed by 5:00 am but intermittent sniper fire continued throughout the day, leaving Khaled al-Rifai dead.
Eight people were injured overnight, two of them seriously, in the fighting between the rival neighborhoods, the National News Agency said earlier.
The news agency also said a house owned by Abdul Rahman Hamad was engulfed in flames in the area of Starco in Bab al-Tabbaneh when it was hit with an RPG.
Premier Najib Miqati held phone conversations with the chiefs of security agencies, urging them not to be tolerant with those who tamper with security in Tripoli.
He also called on them to intensify measures to restore calm in the city.
Sectarian violence has flared on a number of occasions in Tripoli since the revolt broke out in neighboring Syria in March 2011, including deadly street battles in May that erupted over the controversial arrest of Islamist Shadi al-Mawlawi, who was released last week..
Bab al-Tebbaneh and Jabal Mohsen have been gripped by frequent fighting, reflecting a split between Lebanon’s parties where the March 14- led opposition backs the revolt in Syria while a ruling coalition led by Hizbullah supports the Damascus regime.
Syrian violence spilling over into already lawless Lebanon cannot be a good thing. Just this week there were two other Syria related issues that took center stage in Lebanon. In the first, a group of Shiite Lebanese were taken hostage by “Salafists” in Syria, demanding an apology from Nasrallah. In another, two Lebanese farmers were captured by Syrian forces.
We must all remember that the phrase “Assad is butchering his own people” is false, he’s killing everyone but his people, the Alawites. This is the same kind of sectarian violence underneath the Libyan civil war, and this is the same violence that ripped Lebanon apart since the 80’s.
All we can do is hope that none of this will spill over into Israel. However, with some wanting to arm the Syrian opposition, and others arming Assad, the possibility that it won’t is diminishing. When the Syrian civil war ends, and sectarian violence quells down, all those arms will be aimed at Israel.
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