Eight killed in Lebanon clashes linked to Syria uprising

An armed militiaman stands behind a barricade of sandbags in Tripoli's Sunni Muslim neighborhood of Bab al-Tabbaneh. (AFP)

Supporters and opponents of a popular uprising against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad clashed in neighboring Lebanon’s port city of Tripoli on Saturday, leaving eight dead.

Among the dead were a woman and her son, killed by a rocket in the Bab al-Tebanneh district, a mostly Sunni Muslim community which supports Syria’s anti-regime opposition, the official said.

At least five were wounded in Jabal Mohsen, an area mainly populated by pro-Damascus residents.

Sporadic gun and rocket fire broke out at midnight and continued through the night, forcing some residents of the port city to flee their homes.

The army and police were later being deployed in Tripoli, the source said.

Sectarian violence has flared on a number of occasions in Tripoli since the revolt broke out in neighboring Syria in March last year, including deadly street battles in May.

Gunmen from the Jabal Mohsen district, home to the minority Alawite sect - the same offshoot of Shi’ite Islam to which Assad belongs - have fought on-off skirmishes over the past few weeks with residents of Bab al-Tabbaneh.

The neighborhoods have long-standing grievances separate from the Syria conflict but the Sunni-led uprising has led to strife among Lebanon’s divided population, especially in majority Sunni Tripoli, 70 km (43 miles) north of Beirut.

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