BEIRUT: At least one person was killed Saturday in north Lebanon’s city of Tripoli in renewed fighting between supporters and opponents of Syrian President Bashar Assad as Syria said it would return the bodies of three Lebanese fighters at the end of the weekend.
Security sources, who spoke to The Daily Star on condition of anonymity, identified a man known as Abu Zahir as Saturday’s fatality, a victim of sniping between the rival neighborhoods of Bab al-Tabbaneh, which supports the Syrian uprising, and Jabal Mohsen, whose residents are staunch supporters of Assad.
Four rocket-propelled grenades also fell Saturday evening in the area between the rival neighborhoods, breaking the fragile truce that had set in Friday night.
The sources said that two other people were believed to have been wounded in the clashes, which are widely recognized as stemming from the crisis in neighboring Syria.
The sources said the sniping, which had been limited in the earlier hours of the day, intensified after the rockets fell in the area.
Saturday’s fighting comes after a week of clashes between the two sides that claimed the lives of 13 people and wounded scores more.
A fragile truce was in place Friday night amid continued tension in the area over the recent killing of Lebanese Salafist fighters in Syria’s Tal Kalakh, which lies near the Lebanese border. The fighters, mostly from Tripoli, were killed in an ambush by the Syrian army.
The National News Agency reported Wednesday that Foreign Minister Adnan Mansour was informed in a letter that three of the slain fighters would be returned to Lebanon Sunday.
“[On Sunday Syrian authorities will return] the bodies of three Lebanese killed in Syria’s Tal Kalakh,” the statement from Mansour’s office said, according to the NNA.
The statement identified the three as Mustapha Alameddine, Malek Ziad Hajj-Dib and Abdelhamid Ali al-Agha.
It added that the handover would take place through coordination between Syrian authorities and the director of Lebanon’s General Security, Maj. Gen. Abbas Ibrahim.
Ibrahim was tasked Friday by Prime Minister Najib Mikati to follow up on the process of retrieving the bodies of the Islamists.
The statement from Mansour’s office also said the remaining bodies of Lebanese fighters would be returned in several stages due to “logistical reasons.”
Speaking in Tripoli earlier Saturday, Interior Minister Marwan Charbel reiterated the need for self-restraint and for a radical solution to end the endemic fighting in the port city.
Charbel spoke to reporters following a meeting at Tripoli’s Serail to discuss the faltering security situation in Lebanon’s second largest city.