Tensions high in Lebanon's Tripoli

Aug. 23, 2012 at 8:46 AM
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BEIRUT, Lebanon, Aug. 23 (UPI) -- One man was killed in battles in Lebanon that threatened a cease-fire brokered between opposition and loyalists of Bashar Assad's Syrian regime, officials said.

Gunfire erupted in Tripoli, Lebanon's second largest city, Thursday shaking a truce aimed at ending the violence, the Lebanese newspaper The Daily Star said.

Some groups in the city refuse to recognize the cease-fire reached Wednesday night, the newspaper said.

Exchanges of gunfire occurred just hours after a cease-fire agreement between the Sunnis who oppose Syrian President Bashar Assad and Alawites who support the Syrian president, the Lebanese daily said.

Thursday's death brings the total number of those killed to 13 with 76 injured in three days of clashes in the city, The Daily Star said.

A senior U.N. official said the situation shows the crisis in Syria is spilling into Lebanon.

"As the crisis in Syria continues to deteriorate, the situation in Lebanon has become more precarious and the need for continued international support for the government and the Lebanese armed forces increasingly important," the paper quoted Jeffrey Feltman, the former U.S. ambassador to Lebanon and currently U.N. undersecretary general for Political Affairs saying in New York.

A senior security source in Lebanon expressed concern over the situation, saying, despite the cease-fire, fighting would resume even though Lebanese soldiers were deployed in the country's second largest city. The source said he doubted the military presence would be effective, saying while the army is conducting patrols, soldiers have been instructed to deploy and not intervene.

On Wednesday night political and security officials met Lebanese lawmaker Mohammed Kabbara and agreed to a cease-fire, and called on the Lebanese army to deploy in the problematic areas, the newspaper said. Kabbara said Prime Minister Najib Mikati and other government ministers planned to visit Tripoli to oversee the cease-fire.

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