In a Lebanese City, Fighting Over Syria Conflict Is Deadly (NY) TIMES) By HWAIDA SAAD BEIRUT, Lebanon 06/03/12)
NEW YORK TIMES
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BEIRUT, Lebanon — Sectarian tensions between supporters and opponents
of the Syrian government reignited street fighting in the northern
Lebanese port city of Tripoli on Saturday, with local news media
reports saying at least 7 people were killed and 30 were wounded.
The fighting in Lebanon has erupted sporadically since the uprising
in Syria began 15 months ago, with Tripoli a tinderbox because the
same sects at odds in Syria live in adjacent neighborhoods in that
port city. Fear that the Syrian conflict will spill over the border
has prompted all Lebanese political factions to adopt a policy
of “disassociation” from the uprising.
The fighting in Tripoli, Lebanon’s second-largest city, started in
earnest after a demonstration on Friday night commemorating the
victims of Houla, an area near Homs, Syria, where 108 Sunni Muslims,
including 49 children, were killed on May 25. Villagers accused men
from nearby Alawite villages of carrying out the massacre, while the
Syrian government blamed “armed gangs” financed by foreign states.
The recurring street fights in Tripoli pit Sunni Muslims, who support
the Syrian uprising, against members of the Alawite sect, an offshoot
of Shiite Islam to which Syria’s president, Bashar al-Assad, belongs.
Political leaders in Jabal Mohsen, Tripoli’s Alawite quarter, said
their neighborhood was singled out.
Rifaat Eid, the secretary general of the Arab Democratic Party, the
main political arm of Lebanon’s Alawites, said that one civilian from
Jabal Mohsen had died in the fighting. The Lebanese Army had
previously sent troops to the city, he said, but had yet to intervene.
A Sunni fighter reached briefly by phone said the two sides were
exchanging gunfire and rocket-propelled grenades.
Another Sunni fighter, who goes by the name Abu Bera, said the
fighting started when Alawite militias started firing on the Sunnis
after the protests on Friday. He said that seven Sunni men and one
woman had been killed.
Arab League foreign ministers meeting in Qatar on Saturday issued a
statement asking the two main satellite operators in the Arab world,
Arabsat and Nilesat, to stop broadcasting both private and public
television stations from Syria.
Syrian state-run television ran urgent red banners across the bottom
of its broadcasts saying that the Arab League was trying to “hide the
facts of what is happening in Syria.”
Kofi Annan, the envoy for the United Nations and the Arab League who
is trying to salvage his beleaguered peace plan, told the ministers
that “the specter of all-out civil war, with a worrying sectarian
dimension, grows by the day.” Josh Wood contributed reporting.
(Copyright 2012 The New York Times Company 06/03/12)
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