Lebanon: Gun Battles Kill Five Amid Warnings of 'Civil War'
Five people have been killed and 50 wounded in four days of gun battles in the northern Lebanese city of Tripoli.
A man named as Misbah Al-Nazer was reportedly shot dead by snipers, becoming the latest victim of ongoing fighting between warring factions supporting opposite sides in the civil war in neighboring Syria.
Lebanon's Daily Star identified him as a "local businessman."
Gun battles between militias in the majority-Alawite Jabal Mohsen neighborhood - who support Syria's Alawite-led Assad regime - and rival Sunni militias in Bab al-Tabbaneh - who support the mainly Sunni Syrian rebel movement - have become a regular occurrence in Lebanon's second-largest city, as the Syrian civil war rages on.
The deaths come two days after the former head of Saudi Arabia's General Intelligence Directorate warned of the increasing threat of civil war in Lebanon.
"Lebanon is on the brink of civil war as Hezbollah continues to implement its own agenda without giving any consideration to law and order," Prince Turki Al-Faisal Al-Saud was quoted as saying by Lebanese media outlet Ya Libnan, at a Washington DC lecture on US-Arab relations.
Al-Saud - who is currently serving as chairman at the King Faisal Center for Research and Islamic Studies - continued by calling on Lebanese authorities to impose law and order to put "an end to Hezbollah's intervention in Syria", and for Hezbollah members suspected in the murder of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri to be brought to justice.
Hezbollah, he contended, "is willing to risk the foundations on which the entire Lebanese political system was built in order to prevent the collapse of Syrian President Bashar Assad’s regime and impede the work of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon that is probing the assassination of former premier Rafik Hariri."
The warning by a prominent member of the Saudi royal family may well be taken as the latest in a series of veiled threats by the Sunni Kingdom - a major sponsor of Syria's rebels - to Iranian-backed and pro-Assad Hezbollah.
It comes as Hezbollah fighters are reportedly mobilizing in Syria for a major anti-rebel offensive alongside regime troops and other pro-government militias.
Rifaat Eid, who heads the Alawite "Arab Democratic Party," recently claimed to have information that Saudi Arabia "warned Hezbollah against participating in the battle [for Qalamoun]," and promised that any Hezbollah participation in the battle would result in a "great cost" for the Shia terror group's own bases of support inside Lebanon.