“Violence has erupted in various parts of the country in recent days between supporters of the ruling majority and militants from the opposition backed by Syria and Iran.”
“Fierce clashes rage in north Lebanon,” by Omar Ibrahim for Agence France-Presse, June 23:
Fierce sectarian battles raged in north Lebanon for a second day on Monday as the army vowed to use force if needed to contain the violence threatening to derail an accord to end the country’s political crisis.
Two people were killed and two others died of wounds sustained a day earlier, bringing to eight the death toll from the clashes that erupted on Sunday in the port city of Tripoli, a security official told AFP.
He said 45 other people were wounded.
The clashes in the densely populated Bab al-Tebbaneh and Jabal Mohsen districts pitted Sunni supporters of the Western-backed majority against members of an Alawite sect loyal to the Hezbollah-led opposition.
Fighters traded heavy machine-gun fire, mortars and rocket-propelled grenades, prompting residents to flee the area or to hide in underground shelters.
Several homes as well as a gas station were burned.
A Lebanese army spokesman said troops planned to resort to force if necessary to stop the fighting.
Back-up troops could be seen deploying in the area where the battles were taking place by late afternoon.
“We will use force if needed to end all armed presence in the combat zones where we are sending reinforcements following a unanimous accord between the warring sides calling for a ceasefire,” the spokesman said.
Representatives from the Sunni militant side and the Alawites, a secretive offshoot of Shiite Islam to which Syrian President Bashar al-Assad belongs, had agreed to a ceasefire on Sunday but the accord was not respected.
The clashes in Tripoli have raised fears of a nationwide deterioration of the security situation amid stalled efforts by Prime Minister Fuad Siniora to form a national unity government following a deal last month that ended an 18-month political crisis.
Violence has erupted in various parts of the country in recent days between supporters of the ruling majority and militants from the opposition backed by Syria and Iran.