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Troops deployed as calm returns to Lebanon

Latest update : 2008-06-24

Lebanese troops were deployed to the outskirts of the northern city of Tripoli to restore calm after sectarian fighting raged on for a second day, further denting the Qatari-brokered accord to end the country's political crisis. (Report: R.Ranucci)

TRIPOLI, Lebanon, June 23 (Reuters) - Lebanese troops
deployed in Lebanon's second largest city on Monday to try to
end two days of sectarian fighting that has killed at least nine
people and dented a deal to end the country's political crisis.

Witnesses said soldiers and policemen in armoured troop
carriers entered the outskirts of the northern city of Tripoli,
scene of fighting between Sunni Muslim government supporters and
Alawite gunmen close to the Hezbollah-led opposition.

The clashes subsided as the forces deployed on the frontline
between the Sunni Bab Tibbaneh area and Alawite Jabal Mohsen.

The army said in a statement it would start implementing
measures to restore calm and warned that it would use force if
necessary to end the bloodshed.

Sunni parliamentary majority leader Saad al-Hariri called on
his followers in Tripoli to cooperate with the army.

Security sources said at least nine people had been killed
and 50 wounded in the fighting that erupted at dawn on Sunday.
Several homes, shops and cars were destroyed in the clashes in
the mainly Sunni port city.

The warring sides had exchanged machinegun fire, grenades
and mortar bombs. Scores of families fled and sought safe haven
in other parts of the city and nearby villages.

Tripoli is dominated by Lebanon's anti-Syrian Sunni-led
majority coalition while a majority of Alawites have close ties
to Syria, which is ruled by an Alawite and is allied to the

Alawites are a small offshoot of Shi'ite Islam which
dominates the Baathist government in neighbouring Syria. Their
numbers are small in Lebanon but they gained some political
clout during Syria's military presence in Lebanon.  

Last month Lebanon ended its 18-month political crisis with
the Western-backed coalition and the Hezbollah-led opposition
reaching a Qatari-mediated accord. The conflict had led to a
violent showdown that threatened a new civil war.

Since then there have been frequent minor security

Delays in forming a national unity government as stipulated
in last month's accord have raised fears of a further
deterioration in the security situation and a collapse in
efforts to resolve the political standoff.

Date created : 2008-06-23