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3 killed in Lebanon clashes as tensions over Syria persist

By Nada Husseini, CNN
June 4, 2013 -- Updated 1140 GMT (1940 HKT)
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Clashes were between armed groups -- one from a Sunni area, the other from an Alawite area
  • The uprising in neighboring Syria has worsened long-running political, sectarian tensions
  • 30 injured in clashes, including two security personnel and two soldiers, Lebanon's ISF says

(CNN) -- Three people were killed and 30 others wounded Sunday and Monday in clashes between rival armed groups in northern Lebanon's port city of Tripoli, Lebanon's Internal Security Forces said.

Clashes between the groups -- one from a Sunni Muslim neighborhood in Tripoli, the other from an Alawite Muslim neighborhood -- are the latest in long-running political and sectarian tensions that have become more pronounced since an uprising in neighboring Syria.

Two ISF personnel and two Lebanese army soldiers were among the injured in the clashes, the ISF said.

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Clashes have happened intermittently in Tripoli over political differences since 2008, but have picked up in the last 10 days. Lately, the violence has been between those for and against the Alawite-dominated regime in Syria, whose border lies 20 miles to the northeast.

Lebanon has increasingly felt the effects of the Syrian conflict, which began more than two years ago with President Bashar al-Assad's crackdown on demonstrators.

France says Hezbollah, the powerful Lebanese Shiite militia backed by Iran and Syria, has dispatched up to 4,000 fighters to Syria to bolster al-Assad's forces.

Rebels in Syria, many of them Sunni, have vowed to retaliate, and rocket attacks from Syria reportedly have struck Shiite towns inside Lebanon, where a fragile sectarian and political balance has held since the end of a civil war that wracked the country from 1975 to 1990.

Last week, three Lebanese soldiers were killed by unidentified gunmen who fired on their checkpoint, Lebanon's national news agency reported.

CNN's Jason Hanna and Matt Smith contributed to this report.

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