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Fighting lull in north Lebanon's Tripoli
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TRIPOLI, Lebanon: Sniper fire in the northern city of Tripoli Monday punctured a lull in the fighting between supporters and opponents of Syrian President Bashar Assad that has claimed the lives of 29 people since hostilities erupted between the rivals earlier this month.

Fadwa Saleh, Ismail Mohammad and Abbas Hasan were wounded in limited clashes between Assad supporters positioned in the pre-dominantly Alawite neighborhood of Jabal Mohsen and rivals in the mostly Sunni Bab al-Tabbaneh. The three hail from Jabal Mohsen.

The Army also responded to sources of fire in the Qibbeh, Riva and Baqqar neighborhoods.

The heavy gunbattles that predominated in the city last week subsided substantially overnight and Monday morning after a fragile cease-fire between fighters took hold.

The cease-fire was brokered by a local sheikh and the Lebanese Army.

Sheikh Khaled Sayyed, who heads a mosque in Bab al-Tabbaneh, held intensive talks with local field commanders Sunday that led to the cautious calm, sources told The Daily Star.

The cease-fire was apparently aimed at securing a safe deployment of the Army throughout Bab al-Tabbaneh, something that failed to materialize.

Sandbags continued to block the entry of Army vehicles to closed areas of Bab al-Tabbaneh Monday.

Soldiers only conducted patrols along Syria Street which separates Bab al-Tabbaneh from Jabal Mohsen.

Sporadic crackle of machine gun fire could be heard as reporters toured the mainly-Sunni neighborhood.

The relative calm that settled on Tripoli Sunday night and Monday morning was conditioned on a series of demands by leaders of armed groups in Bab al-Tabbaneh.

The demands included the withdrawal of the Army’s Fourth Regiment Intervention Brigade and the departure of the head of the Arab Democratic Party Rifaat Eid from Jabal Mohsen.

Bab al-Tabbaneh fighters also insist that the government pay compensation for damages caused by the repeated clashes.

The Army gradually bolstered its presence on the ground Sunday in the hours that followed a lull in sporadic clashes.

Schools remained closed for a second week Monday and only a few people dared to venture outside their homes.

Traffic on the usually clogged streets of Tripoli was sparse during the morning hours of Monday despite the relative calm in the fighting that broke out on May 20.

Only one percussion bomb hurled outside a building on Mutran Street shortly before midnight shattered the cautious calm.

At least 29 people have been killed, including two soldiers, and 200 wounded in the latest bout of gun battles in Tripoli.

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