Syrian war spreads to Lebanon

Armed clashes erupted in Beirut between rival Sunni factions May 21, wounding at least six people. The fighting broke out after Sheikh Ahmed Abdul Wahid, a Sunni cleric, and Muhammed Hussein Miraib, both members of the March 14 Alliance, were shot in their car near Tripoli as they reportedly tried to run a government checkpoint. Lebanon’s state-run National News Agency said that gunmen were using “bombs and machine guns.” The March 14 Alliance, which emerged from the Cedar Revolution, sympathizes with the rebellion against Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad. Residents of the northern region of Akkar also blocked off roads and burned tires to protest against the killings. The Beirut fighting follows a week of sporadic clashes in Tripoli, also between pro- and anti-Assad Sunni groups. Gunfire first broke out in Tripoli May 14 as sympathizers of the Syrian rebellion, apparently including many Islamists, tried to approach the offices of the Syrian Social Nationalist Party—which is basically the Lebanese wing of Syria’s ruling Ba’ath Party. The march on the party headquarters was a response to the May 12 arrest of Sunni Islamist activist Shadi al-Mawlawi and five others by Lebanon’s General Security Directorate. (AlJazeera, Radio Australia, AP, May 21; Foreign Policy, May 15; Now Lebanon, May 14)

See our last post on Lebanon and the Syrian revolution.

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