Monday, May 21, 2012

Gunmen For and Against Assad Clash in Beirut

Conflict Spilling Over into Lebanon 

Lebanese officials say heavy clashes have killed at least two people in Beirut, increasing fears that the conflict in Syria is spilling into its western neighbor.

Officials said gunman clashed in the capital's Tariq al-Jadideh district Monday. Fighters cut off roadways and and fired machine guns early into the morning.

The violence between Lebanese Alawites supporting Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and Sunni Muslims sympathetic to the Syrian opposition comes a day after Lebanese troops opened fire on a speeding car carrying a Sunni cleric through a military checkpoint. The shooting killed cleric Ahmed Abdul-Wahid and his aide, who were both members of Lebanon's anti-Assad alliance.

The Lebanese military issued a statement of "deep regret" and said an investigation of the incident has been launched. The cleric's supporters protested his death by burning tires and blocking roads in parts of northern Lebanon.

Fighting between pro- and anti-Assad groups in the northern Lebanese city of Tripoli has killed at least eight people in the past week.

In Syria, activist say security forces attacked a rebellious town in the country's central province of Hama Sunday, killing 34 people, including children.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says government artillery and gunfire hit the town of Souran. There was no independent confirmation of the casualties.