Friday’s car-bomb assassination of the Lebanese police intelligence chief has sparked renewed sectarian fighting in the capital of Beirut and northern part of the country, raising concerns that the Syrian conflict could spill into Lebanon. The Daily Star reported that a Palestinian was killed on Monday as the Lebanese army sought to restore order in the Beirut area, after clashes following the intelligence chief’s funeral on Sunday wounded six.
The army on Monday had restored general calm as of Monday afternoon in the capital, which had seen machine-gun and rocket-propelled grenade fire Sunday, according to The Daily Star. The fighting was between a Sunni Muslim neighborhood and a neighborhood with some ties to Hezbollah.
However, the violence in northern Lebanon was even worse and had continued into Monday, the report said. At least three were killed in Sunday’s fighting in Tripoli and 17 were wounded. Passions were inflamed at the funeral for intelligence chief Brig. Gen. Wissam al-Hasan, with a 15-year-old resident of a neighborhood with Syrian-supporters dying in the aftermath. That led to violence between those that support Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and the Lebanese neighborhood that opposes him.
While fighting is tragically not a new occurrence in Lebanon, which saw a civil war in its past and has witnessed some serious flare-ups in the last few years, the current conflict comes between opponents and supporters of the Syrian regime during the quasi-civil war in Syria. There have been fears in the past that the Syrian conflict could spill over into Lebanon, where sectarian divisions remain strong.
The Daily Star said Al-Hassan, killed in Friday’s blast, was linked to the anti-Syrian March 14 political movement in Lebanon. The Daily Star further reported that a number of March 14 politicians are accusing Syria of being behind assassination.
(By Joshua Spurlock, www.themideastupdate.com, October 22, 2012)