Lebanese soldiers patrol Syria Street in Tripoli's Bab al-Tabbaneh neighbourhood on June 7, 2013
Lebanese soldiers patrol Syria Street in Tripoli's Bab al-Tabbaneh neighbourhood on Friday. The Lebanese army warned on Friday that a plot was afoot to embroil the country in the 26-month conflict in neighbouring Syria, as deadly clashes between Damascus supporters and opponents inside Lebanon multiply. © Joseph Eid - AFP
Lebanese soldiers patrol Syria Street in Tripoli's Bab al-Tabbaneh neighbourhood on June 7, 2013
AFP
Last updated: June 7, 2013

Lebanon army slams plot to draw it into Syria war

The army warned Friday that a plot was being hatched to embroil Lebanon in the 26-month Syrian conflict, as fresh clashes linked to Syria in the northern port of Tripoli killed one person.

"The army command... calls on citizens to be wary of plots aimed at taking Lebanon backwards and dragging it into an absurd war," it said in a statement, adding that it would give an "armed response to any armed action".

"The army command has been trying for several months to work firmly, determinedly and patiently to prevent Lebanon being turned into a battlefield for regional conflicts and to prevent any spillover of the events in Syria," it said.

"But in recent days, some groups have seemed determined to stoke security tensions... against the backdrop of the political divisions in Lebanon over military developments in Syria."

Although Lebanon has officially adopted a position of neutrality in Syria's war, its people are sharply divided with Shiite Muslims backing President Bashar al-Assad's regime and Sunnis the rebellion.

The army urged "citizens to express their political views on events in Lebanon and Syria by peaceful and democratic means and not to be driven by groups wanting to use violence as a means to achieve their ends".

The statement was the strongest from the Lebanese army since the uprising against Assad erupted in March 2011.

It came as another bout of fighting broke out in central Tripoli, killing one person and wounding five others.

Friday's clashes pitched fighters from a Salafist group which supports Syria's rebels against a group of Sunni gunmen who back the Shiite movement Hezbollah, a key ally of the Syrian regime.

On Thursday, one person was killed and several others wounded in clashes also in the heart of Tripoli, Lebanon's second-biggest city.

And on Wednesday night, two armed men, one of them Syrian, were killed in a shootout with the army at the entrance of the town of Arsal, near the border with Syria, the military said.

Arsal, home to Sunnis who support the Syrian uprising, is a conduit for rebel fighters, their weapons and refugees across the border with the war-torn country.

On Thursday, one person was killed and several others wounded in clashes also in the heart of Tripoli, Lebanon's second-biggest city.

It came after the public intervention of Hezbollah fighters alongside Assad's troops in the battle for the border town of Qusayr which culminated in its recapture on Wednesday and deepened political divisions inside Lebanon.

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