Lebanese army deploys in Tripoli after 13 killed

June 3, 2012 11:30

TRIPOLI, Lebanon - Lebanese troops deployed in the northern city of Tripoli early on Sunday after fierce clashes between supporters and opponents of Syrian President Bashar Assad in which 13 people were killed, local medics and security sources said.

Residents said relative calm had returned to the city since the soldiers deployed at around 7 a.m. (0400 GMT), after gunmen exchanged heavy machinegun fire and rocket propelled grenades.

Prime Minister Najib Mikati and other Tripoli politicians instructed security forces on Saturday to use an "iron fist" to quell the worst violence to shake Tripoli since the start of an uprising against Assad in neighboring Syria.

The mainly Sunni Muslim protests against Assad have polarized Tripoli, where a small community of Alawites - from the same offshoot of Shi'ite Islam as Assad - have frequently clashed with majority Sunni Muslims who support the uprising.

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