Three killed during Syria-related clashes in Lebanese city

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Three people were killed in further sectarian fighting in the northern Lebanese city of Tripoli on Tuesday, security sources said, raising the death toll from four days of sporadic conflict related to Syria's civil war to nine.

Rocket-propelled grenades and heavy gunfire shook Tripoli on Tuesday afternoon. Snipers positioned in apartment blocks made walking through some streets unsafe.

Security sources said 60 people, including civilians, had been wounded over the past four days of violence in Tripoli,where an Alawite minority lives on a hill overlooking the mainly Sunni Muslim port city.

Syrian activists say the latest fighting in Tripoli was ignited by tension over an assault by Syrian troops backed by Lebanese Shiite Hezbollah militia on the rebel-held Syrian border town of Qusayr.

Sunnis in Lebanon mostly sympathize with the Sunni-led insurrection against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, whose minority Alawite sect is an offshoot of Shiite Islam.

Lebanese militants are believed to be crossing the border to join fighting in Syria on both sides of a conflict which has sometimes bubbled over into Lebanon, especially in Tripoli.

The Syrian army offensive in Qusayr is aimed at retaking a town that straddles routes from Lebanon to the central crossroads city of Homs, which links Damascus to the north as well as to Alawite strongholds on the coast.

Each side accuses the other of using Tripoli as a base for sending fighters and weapons in and out of Syria.