May 20, 2013 / 7:14 PM / 6 years ago

Tensions over Syria convulse Lebanese city again, 5 killed

TRIPOLI, Lebanon (Reuters) - Five people have been killed and about 50 wounded in two days of fighting in the northern Lebanese city of Tripoli, security sources said on Monday, a spillover of violence from the civil war in Syria.

Rocket-propelled grenades and heavy gunfire shook the city on Sunday night but exchanges tapered off into sporadic sniper fire by daytime.

Syrian activists say the latest fighting in Tripoli, where an Alawite minority lives on a hill overlooking the mainly Sunni Muslim port city, was ignited by tension over an assault by Syrian troops backed by Lebanon’s Shi’ite Hezbollah militia on the rebel-held Syrian border town of Qusair.

Three people were killed in the Sunni district of Bab Tabbaneh and another in the adjacent Alawite neighborhood of Jabal Mohsen, the security sources said. The fifth fatality was a Lebanese soldier.

Sunnis in Lebanon mostly sympathize with the Sunni-led revolt against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, whose minority Alawite sect is an offshoot of Shi’ite Islam.

Lebanese militants are believed to be crossing the border to join fighting in Syria on both sides of a conflict which has sometimes bubbled over into Lebanon, especially in Tripoli.

The Syrian army offensive in Qusair is an attempt to recapture a town that straddles routes from Lebanon to the central crossroads city of Homs, which links Damascus to the north, as well as to Alawite strongholds on the coast.

Each side accuses the other of using Tripoli as a base for sending fighters and weapons in and out of Syria.

Reporting by Nazih Saddiq, writing by Erika Solomon, editing by Mark Heinrich

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