TRIPOLI, Lebanon: Sporadic gunfire persisted Sunday in the north Lebanon city of Tripoli amid a cautious calm that set in earlier in the day following fierce overnight clashes between opponents and supporters of Syrian President Bashar Assad.
A boy, Mazen Mustafa Mustafa, died of his wounds Sunday, raising the death toll from the two days of fighting to 14. At least 52 people have also been wounded so far in the clashes that erupted at dawn Saturday.
The National News Agency reported that one person was wounded around noon by gunfire near the Mankoubeen between Bab al-Tabbaneh, residents of which fervently oppose Assad, and Jabal Mohsen, residents of which support the embattled Syrian leader.
The Lebanese Army, following late night talks by officials in the city, moved into Syria Street that divides the rival neighborhoods at around 8 a.m. Sunday, the NNA said.
Prior to military intervention, residents said overnight fighting with assault rifles, machine guns, grenades and mortar bombs were the fiercest in the second largest Lebanese city since the height of the 1975-1990 Civil War.
The escalation in violence in Tripoli, weeks after similar clashes between the rival neighborhoods led to the killing of 11 people and the wounding of over 100, prompted intensive efforts by officials to allow the army into the conflict areas.
Interior Minister Marwan Charbel, following a meeting with security officials at Tripoli’s serial that ended near midnight, said the Lebanese Army had been given the green light to move in and that a security plan would be implemented starting 5 a.m. Sunday.
He said security forces would respond to all those not abiding by the cease-fire and that anyone targeting the security forces would “be held responsible for the act.”
At around 6 a.m. Sunday the sounds of heavy gunfire tapered off, an hour after the deadline set by Charbel.