Clashes kill four, injure 25 in north Lebanon

TRIPOLI, Lebanon Sat Jun 2, 2012 9:35am EDT

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TRIPOLI, Lebanon (Reuters) - 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 four dead and 25 wounded, residents and a doctor said.

A Reuters journalist said the sides fired machine guns and rocket-propelled grenades at each other and that the army moved into the area with armored vehicles to try and quell the violence, but did not open fire.

Residents said the fatalities included civilians caught in the crossfire and that a Lebanese soldier was among the wounded. Sporadic fighting raged since the early hours of the morning.

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, who are Sunni Muslims.

The neighbourhoods 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.

(Reporting by Nazih Siddiq; Writing by Oliver Holmes; Editing by Pravin Char)

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