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Three dead in north Lebanon in spillover from Syria war

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[March 21, 2014]  TRIPOLI, Lebanon (Reuters)  Three people were killed in the northern Lebanese city of Tripoli on Friday in fighting between supporters and opponents of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, security and medical sources said.

Tripoli, like much of Lebanon, is divided along sectarian lines and is only 30 miles from the Syrian border. Its majority Sunni Muslims, who back the Syrian rebels, often clash with the minority from Assad's Alawite sect.

Two gunmen were wounded in overnight clashes between fighters from the Sunni district of Bab al-Tabbaneh and the Alawite neighborhood of Jebel Mohsen and died of their wounds, the sources said. An elderly civilian man was shot dead by a sniper on Friday, they added. Eleven others were wounded.

Lebanon's population is deeply divided over the Syrian war. Shi'ite militant and political movement Hezbollah and its allies support Assad while many of the country's Sunnis back the revolt.

Tripoli's Sunnis and Alawites have clashed on-and-off for decades but the Syrian conflict has worsened tensions, with each side accusing the other of using the city as a base for sending fighters and weapons in and out of Syria.

Lebanon's parliament gave a newly-formed cabinet a vote of confidence on Thursday, ending almost a year of political deadlock.

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But the small Mediterranean country sees regular car bombs and rocket attacks, as well as incursions by the Syrian army in pursuit of rebels who move across the border.

(Reporting by Nazih Saddiq; writing by Oliver Holmes; editing by Robin Pomeroy)

[ 2014 Thomson Reuters. All rights reserved.]

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