Street battles and violence claim lives in Beirut
Street battles between pro and anti-Syrian groups in the Lebanese capital killed two people and wounded 15 others as the spiraling conflict in neighbouring Syria spilled across the border.
Some Beirut residents kept their children home from school amid the fighting, which is among the worst the Lebanese capital has seen in four years. Gunmen fired rocket-propelled grenades and machine guns in battles that lasted more than four hours overnight on Sunday.
The streets were calmer yesterday, but some shops remained closed. The violence in the predominantly Sunni neighbourhood of Tariq Jadidah erupted hours after an anti-Syrian cleric and his bodyguard were shot dead at a checkpoint in northern Lebanon, an incident that instantly spiked tensions.
And authorities were braced for the possibility of more
violence yesterday in the north, where Sunni cleric Sheikh Ahmed Abdul-Wahid and his minder were to be buried.
Amid fears the situation might deteriorate, four
Gulf countries, including the UAE, have warned citizens against travel to Lebanon.
The fighting underscores how the bloodshed in Syria, where President Bashar Al Assad’s regime is cracking down on an uprising against his rule, can fuel violence across the border in Lebanon.
There is an array of die-hard pro-Syrian Lebanese parties and politicians, as well as support for the regime on the street level. There is an equally deep hatred of Assad among other Lebanese nationals who
fear Damascus is still calling the shots.