Gun battles between pro- and anti-Syrian groups in northern Lebanon killed at least seven people and wounded 22 today, security officials said, as activists reported fresh shelling in a region in central Syria where a massacre last week left more than 100 people dead. The clashes were the latest to hit the Lebanese port of Tripoli. Repeated outbreaks of violence in the city, the country's second largest, are seen as spillover from the conflict in neighboring Syria and have raised fears of an escalation in sectarian tensions in Lebanon.
The fighting in Tripoli started shortly before midnight yesterday and intensified today, the officials said on condition of anonymity in line with regulations. Lebanon and Syria share a complex web of political and sectarian ties and rivalries, which are easily enflamed. Clashes in Tripoli last month killed at least eight people. The conflict pits Sunni Muslims who support Syrian rebels trying to oust President Bashar Assad against members of the Alawite sect, an offshoot of Shiite Islam of which Assad is a member.