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Syria-related clashes again break out in Lebanon

August 21, 2012 |  8:26 am

Clashes between opponents and supporters of Syrian President Bashar Assad left two people dead in the northern Lebanese city of Tripoli
BEIRUT -- Clashes between opponents and supporters of Syrian President Bashar Assad left two people dead Monday night in the northern Lebanese city of Tripoli.

At least 36 other people were injured when residents from rival neighborhoods exchanged gunfire as tensions over the neighboring Syrian conflict continue to spill over into Lebanon, the official National News Agency reported.

The gun battles are part of long-standing sectarian divisions between two neighborhoods -- Bab al-Tabbaneh, a largely Sunni Muslim area where anti-Assad sentiment is strong, and the adjascent Jabal Mohsen district, an Alawite and pro-Assad stronghold. It was not the first time that Syrian-linked fighting has raged between the two neighborhoods.

The Lebanese army deployed in the area and opened fire on both sides in an attempt to stop the fighting, according to the National News Agency. The troops came under fire and suffered nine casualties, including five soldiers wounded when a hand grenade was thrown at their patrol. It wasn't clear which side was attacking.

Streets in other parts of the city were mostly empty as residents stayed indoors for safety.

Meanwhile, Jordan's Foreign Ministry condemned an incident Sunday in which four Syrian army shells landed in its territory during clashes between the Syrian government and rebels. One Jordanian girl suffered shrapnel wounds.

The Syrian ambassador was summoned to Amman and given a letter of protest to deliver to Assad's government, according to Petra, Jordan's official news agency.

The Foreign Ministry stressed that the Syrian army holds responsibility for controlling the border with Jordan, and described the incident as "unacceptable," Petra reported.

Inside Syria, the conflict continued to claim dozens of lives.

In a suburb of Damascus, activists said, 40 bodies were discovered Tuesday afternoon in the basement of an apartment building, but no further information was available. Grisly findings have become increasingly common as those detained by the army and security forces are often found dead a few days later, their bodies dumped in the streets, they said.

Shelling from government tanks, attack helicopters and fighter jets continued throughout many parts of the country.


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-- Times staff

Photo: Lebanese security forces take up positions in a tank in the northern city of Tripoli on Tuesday following clashes between pro-and anti-Syrian government supporters. Credit: AFP/Getty Images