Beirut Gun Battles Raise Fears of Civil War
At least one person has been killed and fourteen wounded in the Lebanese capital Beirut, in overnight gun battles between supporters and opponents of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
The initial fighting reportedly broke out at 3 a.m. on Sunday morning between the pro-Assad Arab Movement and fighters aligned with the Future Movement, which supports the rebel movement in neighboring Syria.
The two Sunni factions battled it out on the streets in Beirut for hours with small-arms fire and rocket-propelled grenades used during the fighting. Reports claim that fighters from the Shia Islamist Hezbollah group joined the battle as it raged on into the morning.
The Lebanese army moved in with armored vehicles to quell the violence, but after a brief lull fighting resumed at around 10 a.m., with local media reporting that at least one building had caught fire as a result, according to the Daily Star.
Such gun battles are relatively common in the flashpoint Lebanese city of Tripoli, between Allawite supporters of Assad and Sunni opponents. Violence there left at least 25 people dead last week.
But street fighting of this sort in Beirut is relatively rare, and this latest spillover from the conflict in Syria will do little do ease fears of the Syrian civil war sparking an all-out civil war between rival religious and political groups in Lebanon, particularly between the country's Shia and Sunni Muslim communities.