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Pro- and anti-Syria regime gunmen clash in Lebanon

(AFP) / 10 February 2012

BEIRUT — Shooting broke out on Friday in the northern Lebanese city of Tripoli as gunmen deployed heavily in two rival neighborhoods, one group supporting and the other opposed to the regime in Syria.

“There is a heavy armed presence and shooting in the Sunni Muslim neighbourhood of Bab al-Tebbaneh and the Alawite neighbourhood of Jabal Mohsen,” a security official said, requesting anonymity.

“One person driving by was injured in the gunfire.”

He said the army had deployed in both neighbourhoods earlier in the day, but later retreated to a street dividing the two sides.

“Two soldiers were wounded in the clashes,” he said.

The Sunni-majority coastal city has in the past few years been the scene of intense clashes between Sunni supporters of the anti-Syrian opposition and Alawite Muslims loyal to a Hezbollah-led alliance backed by Iran and Syria.

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, who is fighting an unprecedented revolt against his regime, hails from the Alawite community, an offshoot of Shiite Islam.

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