TRIPOLI, Lebanon: One person was killed and several wounded Friday as tensions rose in Lebanon’s northern city of Tripoli after clashes erupted following a rocket attack on the northeastern Lebanese town of Arsal that killed eight people.
Taleb Assi died after being shot in Qibbeh, succumbing to his wounds in hospital. Assi is the nephew of Alawite Islamic Council head sheikh Assad Assi. Ali Eid, also an Alawite, was shot as well.
Clashes intensified after Assi’s death as sniping and gunfire reached the Tripoli-Akkar main highway while a number of shells hit Syria Street. Bombs exploded and rocket-propelled grenades were fired.
Mortar bombs landed on the neighborhood of Zahriyeh and Miatayn Street.
A man identified Ahmad Nasser was also wounded after he was hit by sniper fire on Syria Street, and a shop in Sakkat al-Shamal caught on fire after being struck by a rocket-propelled grenade.
Following a Lebanese Army statement pertaining to the attack on Arsal, a number of gunmen from Bab al-Tabbaneh began shooting in the air in anger, after which an exchange of gunfire erupted between the Tripoli neighborhood and its rival, Jabal Mohsen.
Some gunmen managed to temporarily close off the main highway to Akkar, but the Lebanese Army reopened the road.
Also Friday, a rocket attack from Syria on Arsal killed eight people including six children. The rocket fire into Arsal was one of several to target Lebanese border areas. The Army confirmed the attacks, saying 20 rockets and shells from Syria hit Ras Baalbek, Kawakh and Buwayda in Hermel, Masharih al-Qaa and Arsal, resulting in “casualties and material damage.”
Several people have been killed in some 19 rounds of clashes that erupted in the city since the Syrian uprising began in 2011.
Fighters in Bab al-Tabbaneh, a mainly Sunni neighborhood that supports the uprising, have frequently fought with their rivals in Jabal Mohsen, a predominantly Alawite neighborhood that supports the regime of President Bashar Assad.
The Alawite community has in recent weeks been the target of several sectarian attacks.
Friday morning, Mohammad Hussein al-Masri was shot at the vegetable market and taken to hospital. A car belonging to Mahmoud Rashid Sobh was also set on fire after Sobh said he heard gunshots aimed at his Mercedes in the Tripoli neighborhood of Mankoubeen.
The Army Friday sent reinforcements to expand its reach onto Syria Street and contain the gunfire and clashes. It also fired warning shots toward the sources of the attacks.