The United States expressed concern Friday that Lebanon could find itself dragged into Syria's civil war and expressed support for efforts by the country's army to halt an outbreak of fighting.
"The United States is deeply concerned about the situation in Lebanon," State Department deputy spokesman Patrick Ventrell said.
Clashes have erupted in the northern Lebanese port of Tripoli between two armed factions, one sympathetic to Bashar al-Assad's Syrian government and the other to the rebels fighting for his removal.
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Meanwhile, Lebanese Hezbollah fighters have crossed the border into Syria in order to support Assad's forces battling to control frontier communities.
"The United States fully supports Lebanon's security, stability, and sovereignty and welcomes efforts by Lebanon's leaders to take all necessary steps to put an end to the violence," Ventrell said.
"The latest clashes in the northern city of Tripoli, in which at least 23 people have been killed, constitute a stark reminder that the conflict in Syria poses an increasingly dangerous threat to Lebanon's stability and security.
"We call on all parties in the region to avoid any actions that would exacerbate that crisis, increase the propensity for spillover violence, and negatively affect civilian populations.
"Hezbollah leaders' decision to escalate the group's role in the fighting in Syria violates and undermines Lebanon's dissociation policy and risks dragging Lebanon into a foreign conflict," he warned.