Lebanon: sectarian clashes kill three

Clashes regularly erupt between Alawite supporters of Syria’s Assad and Sunni backers of Syrian rebels

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At least three people were killed and 10 others were wounded on Saturday in sectarian clashes in the northern Lebanese city of Tripoli, security sources told Al Arabiya News Channel.

Clashes regularly erupt between Alawite residents of the Jabal Mohsen neighborhood, who support their co-religionist Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, and Sunnis from the Bab al-Tebbaneh district, who back the Sunni-led Syrian rebels.

Lebanese media identified the victims as Abdel-Rahman Merhe, 16, al-Taqwa Mosque guard Omar Hasnawi and Ramziyeh al-Zohbi.

Lebanese soldiers helped evacuate the remaining students from the school where the teenager was killed, and other schools in the city closed for the day.

The Lebanese army said troops were on the ground responding to sources of fire, and that two soldiers had been injured.

The army statement added that another man from Jabal Mohsen had been injured earlier in the day by gunfire in a different Sunni neighborhood of the city.

Tensions have been running high in Tripoli since Thursday, when residents of Jabal Mohsen began flying Syrian flags to demonstrate their support for the Assad regime.

In response, residents of neighboring Bab el-Tebbaneh raised the flag favored by rebels seeking the ouster of Assad.

The same day, gunmen shot and wounded four Alawite workers in the city, prompting condemnation and demonstrations by Alawite residents of Tripoli.

Tripoli’s population is 80 percent Sunni and 11 percent Alawite -- an offshoot of Shiite Islam -- and violence between the two communities dates back to Lebanon’s 1975-1990 civil war.

But the tensions have been aggravated by the conflict in Syria, and the city was struck by a deadly double car bombing in August that killed 45 people.

(With AFP)

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