Twenty-two young men, including a Palestinian, from the Lebanese city of Tripoli were killed on Friday in the Syrian border town of Tal Kalakh, a Lebanese security source and an Islamist leader said.
“There are reports that 21 Lebanese nationals and one Palestinian have been killed in Syria,” the local official said on condition of anonymity.
Earlier, a security source said he was informed the men “went to Syria to fight with the rebels and were all killed in an ambush in Homs province,” which borders Lebanon.
The source said 14 of the bodies had been delivered to a Syrian hospital by government troops.
The majority of people in the predominantly Sunni port city of Tripoli back the rebellion against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, who belongs to the Alawite sect of Shiite Islam.
“Young Islamists from different parts of the city left Tripoli this morning (Friday) and were killed in an ambush in Tal Kalakh by regime forces,” an Islamist leader in the city said.
“According to our information, they were summarily executed and not killed in combat,” he said.
A security source reported gunfire in Tripoli on Friday night between the mainly Sunni Bab al-Tebbaneh district and the neighboring Shiite district of Jabal Mohsen, whose residents support Assad.
He added that the army had been heavily deployed along the aptly named Syria Street dividing the districts, whose traditional rivalry has sharpened over the uprising in Syria.
A young Islamist activist from Bab al-Tebbaneh said two brothers from the neighborhood, the sons of a local cleric, were among those killed on Friday.
For its part, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported that a group of 30 rebels "were caught in an ambush by government troops in the area of Tal Sarin near the town of Tal Kalakh."
“It is unknown if they are being held prisoner or were killed,” the monitoring group said.
Clashes erupt almost daily along the Syrian border, pitting Lebanese Shiite militiamen with close ties to Hezbollah against anti-Assad rebels, according to local residents and activists.
The Shiite movement Hezbollah, the most powerful armed force in Lebanon, is a key backer of Damascus and has been accused of sending its fighters across the border to fight alongside loyalist troops.
“Nearly 5,000 armed men protect our villages, and the majority are close to Hezbollah,” a resident of the Lebanese border village Zeita said.