Sectarian clashes in Lebanon sparked by Syrian spillover
Protestors hold a Syrian pre-Baath flag during a demonstration lead by Lebanese Salafis on Sunday in Southern Lebanon. (AFP PHOTO/MAHMOUD ZAYYAT)
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Three men were killed and at least 10 wounded in the Lebanese port city of Tripoli on Tuesday in sectarian clashes linked to the conflict in neighboring Syria, according to media reports.
The fighting began on Tuesday morning with intermittent shooting between supporters of Syrian president Bashar al-Assad in the Alawite neighborhood of Jabal Mohsen and Assad opponents in Sunni area, Bab al-Tabbaneh. The Lebanese army responded to the violence which escalated throughout the day.
The clashes marked the seventh round of fighting between the two neighborhoods since the uprising against Assad's government began 20 months ago. This time the violence was said to have been caused by the reported deaths of at least 14 Lebanese and Palestinian anti-Assad gunmen from north Lebanon in a Syrian border town last Friday.
The clashes coincided with Lebanese MP, Okab Sakr's admission that he has facilitated arms shipments to Syrian opposition fighters.
Al-Akhbar newspaper and OTV television - both considered pro-Damascus outlets - on Thursday released details of a phone conversation between Sakr and a Syrian rebel commander who asks urgently for weapons.
On Friday and Saturday Al-Akhbar and OTV leaked further conversations with an arms dealer, a rebel leader responsible for distributing weapons and a Free Syrian Army spokesman.
In an interview published on Monday with Saudi-owned daily, Asharq al-Awsat, Sakr verified the recordings.
“I’m not ashamed of what I did and what I am doing... What I do reflects my deep conviction and is in the interest of Lebanon. I am personally responsible for everything I do,” he said.