TRIPOLI, Lebanon: Three people, including a soldier, were killed and at least nine others were wounded Friday in the northern city of Tripoli, raising the death toll of the renewed fighting between supporters and opponents of Syria’s President Bashar Assad in the northern city to six.
Meanwhile, President Michel Sleiman told ministers that top security officials had told him the situation in the northern city was under control and that measures would be further boosted.
Rocket-propelled grenades and machine gun-fire, some hitting areas outside the commonly known front lines that separate the warring neighborhoods, kept many motorists off the roads and schools closed early Friday.
The international highway linking Tripoli with Akkar was also targeted by heavy sniper fire, prompting the Lebanese Army to close the road for motorists’ safety at around 7:00 a.m.
The Army, which has deployed heavily in the city to control the situation, said in a statement that one of its soldiers was killed as a result of sniper fire and other soldiers were wounded in similar circumstances.
Sniper fire also claimed the lives of two men identified as Samir Mrad and Ziad Rashid.
Almost 30 people have also been wounded in the two days of clashes between the rival neighborhoods of Bab al-Tabbaneh, where resident support the uprising in neighboring Syria, and Jabal Mohsen, where support for Assad is staunch.
Three people were killed in Thursday’s clashes.
Soldiers, backed by Armored Personnel Carriers, were deployed in the city as part of the Army’s push to end the clashes.
The military deployment included the rival neighborhoods, the Army said, adding that it was responding to sources of fire and had made several arrests of gunmen.
Some 10 military APCs were also stationed around the residence of former Prime Minister Omar Karami.
Residents of Bab al-Tabbaneh and Jabal Mohsen have fought on and off since 2008. However, tensions and clashes between the sides have increased in frequency and intensity since the uprising in neighboring Syria in 2011.
The fighting Friday tapered off at around 4 p.m. after representatives from Bab al-Tabbaneh met at Tripoli’s Dar al-Fatwa and announced a cease fire.
Sheikh Mohamad Ibrahim declared the cease-fire, which he said would go into immediate effect.
For its part, the Arab Democratic Party from Jabal Mohsen, said it would also cease fire and allow the Army to take control of the situation.
Residents in the northern city described the overnight clashes as horrifying.
“It was a horrible night ... My family and I had to hide under the beds,” 26-year-old Ghofran Nabulsi, who lives in the Qibbeh area, told The Daily Star.
“I could hear gunshots all throughout the night. Each time I would hear shooting, I would feel that bullets were going to pierce the window of my room,” she added.
In December 2012, clashes between the rival neighborhoods left 17 dead and over 100 wounded.