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Tripoli attack points to Sunni rivalries

Syria conflict revives old animosities in northern city

Gulf News

Tripoli, Lebanon: Gunmen opened fire on the house of a Sunni leader in the Lebanese city of Tripoli on Monday, the latest eruption of violence in a city where political and sectarian fault lines have been exposed by the civil war in Syria.

The Syria conflict has revived old animosities in the northern city between an Alawite minority loyal to Syrian President Bashar Al Assad and members of the majority Sunni community who support the 19-month-old uprising.

However the attack of the house of Shaikh Bilal Shaaban — head of an Islamist party politically aligned with the Syrian government and the Shiite group Hezbollah — pointed to rivalries within Lebanon’s Sunni community itself.

There were no casualties in the attack at about 4am (0200 GMT), said associates of Shaaban, head of the Islamic Tawheed Movement.

It came a day after three people were killed in the southern city of Sidon in fighting between followers of a Sunni preacher and supporters of Hezbollah, a Shiite movement and political party allied to Al Assad, whose Alawite faith is derived from Shiite Islam.

The clash occurred in the Palestinian refugee camp of Ain Al Hilweh on the edge of Sidon, a mostly Sunni city, when followers of Shaikh Ahmad Al Aseer, who adhere to a puritan interpretation of Islam, began removing banners put up by Hezbollah ahead of Ashura, a Shiite religious occasion.