Clashes in Lebanon’s northern port city of Tripoli, which erupted between supporters and opponents of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, has killed nine people and injured 42 more.
According to Reuters, the two sides fired machine guns and rocket-propelled grenades at each other, until the army moved into the area with armored vehicles, attempting to quell the violence. They reportedly did not open fire on either side.
Violence in Syria and neighboring countries has skyrocketed since last week, when more than 100 people were massacred in the Syrian city of Houla. The BBC reports that residents of Tripoli described seeing smoke billowing from buildings. One Sunni gunman stated that:
“We are being targeted because we support the Syrian people,” one Sunni gunman told Associated Press Television. “We are with you [Syrian people] and will not abandon you.”
The Chicago Tribune reports that gunmen from the Jabal Mohsen district, which is home to the minority Alawite sect have fought on-off skirmishes in the past few weeks with the Sunni Muslim residents of the Bab al-Tabbaneh area. The Alawite sect is the same offshoot of Shi’ite Islam to which current Syrian President Assad belongs.
Kofi Annan, envoy of the United Nations in Syria, told a meeting of Arab League member countries, according to The Chicago Tribune, that:
“Let me appeal to all of you to engage earnestly and seriously with all other stakeholders, mindful that if regional and international divisions play out in Syria, the Syrian people and the region – your region – will pay the price.”