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One dead in Beirut gunfight between Assad supporters and opponents

Source: Reuters - Sun, 23 Mar 2014 17:59 GMT
Author: Reuters
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(Adds suspected car bomb networks targeted in Syria)

BEIRUT, March 23 (Reuters) - One person was killed and 10 people were wounded in clashes in south Beirut on Sunday between supporters and opponents of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, security sources said.

The fighting broke out before dawn between gunmen loyal to Shaker Barjawi, a Sunni Muslim who supports the Alawite president, and other Sunni Muslims who back the three-year uprising against Assad's rule.

Residents heard the sound of loud gunfire and explosions coming from the Al-Gharbi district of southern Beirut, where Barjawi has an office.

Security sources named the dead man as Nabil Hannash. Several other people including civilians were wounded in the clashes, they said. The army later deployed in the area and the clashes appeared to subside.

The fighting in Beirut follows a week of sustained violence in the northern city of Tripoli, where 27 people have been killed in fighting between Assad supporters and opponents that also dragged in the Lebanese army.

The conflict in Syria has spilled over into sectarian violence in its smaller neighbour between Sunnis who mostly back the Syrian rebels and Shi'ites who support Assad.

Several car bombs have targeted Shi'ite districts of Beirut and towns in the Bekaa Valley, most recently last Sunday when three people were killed in a stronghold of the Shi'ite militant group Hezbollah.

Security sources say many of the bombs were prepared in the Syrian rebel-controlled Qalamoun region, on the Syrian side of the border with Lebanon.

On Sunday, a Lebanese source said Syrian forces backed by Hezbollah fighters had killed eight people in Qalamoun suspected of involvement in preparing car bombs, two of whom were believed to be the heads of local networks. (Reporting By Dominic Evans and Mariam Karouny; Editing by Andrew Heavens)

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