Lebanon: Arab League calls for truce as fighting goes on
Lebanese troops deployed in the northern city of Tripoli on Sunday after fierce battles between rival clans as the Hizbullah-led opposition handed over control of west Beirut to the army. This came as the Arab League held emergency talks in Egypt on the crisis amid regional Sunni fears about Shiite Iran's influence in divided Lebanon. The meeting in Cairo issued a call for an urgent cease-fire in Lebanon.
"The council (of Arab foreign ministers) appeals for an immediate halt of bombings and shooting, and the withdrawal of gunmen ... and the enabling of the army to deploy in those areas," the Arab League said in a statement read by Deputy Secretary-General Ahmed Bin Hilli.
A security official said fierce battles erupted overnight in Tripoli between Sunni supporters of the Western-backed government and members of an Alawite sect loyal to Hizbullah. One woman was killed and at least five people were wounded as thousands fled the clashes . The fighting eased by mid-morning and the army was able to enter the areas.
Many homes and businesses in districts where the battles raged were torched, shop windows were broken and bullet casings littered the streets, AFP reported. The firefights focused on the densely populated Bab al-Tebbaneh, Kobbeh and Jabal Mohsen neighbourhoods on the northern edge of the coastal city.
The overnight battle in the north came despite a return to an uneasy calm in the capital Beirut.
Elsewhere, Shi'ites loyal to Hizbullah battled Druze supporters of the ruling coalition east of Beirut on Sunday. The fighting took place in Aley, a town in the mountains overlooking Beirut. At least five people were killed and 12 wounded, bringing the number of dead in five days of fighting throughout Lebanon to 49. At least 140 people have been injured.
Hizbullah and allied Druze fighters took control of several village in the area, security sources said. A 6 p.m. (1500 GMT) ceasefire did not hold, witnesses said. On his part, Druze leder Walid Jumblat said Hizbullah wants to dominate mount Lebanon that is why the cease-fire has not been applied.
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