x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

At least 11 killed as Syrian tanks storm Damascus neighbourhood

Another eight people have been killed in days of fighting between rival communities in Tripoli, Lebanon sparked by the conflict.

BEIRUT // Activists say Syrian troops backed by tanks have stormed an upscale Damascus neighbourhood, killing at least 11 suspected rebels, while at least eight people have been killed in days of fighting between rival communities in Tripoli, Lebanon sparked by the conflict.

Activists said the Damascus attacks came after regime forces shelled the area with mortars soon after dawn.

An activist, who only wanted to be identified by the name Bassam, said that as many as 22 tanks stormed the Kafar Soussa neighbourhood of the capital with about 20 soldiers on foot behind each one. He spoke via Skype from central Damascus.

The British-based activist group Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said 12 were killed by regime forces shelling and shooting in Kafar Soussa.

It was not immediately clear why government forces stormed Kafar Soussa, but there has been a dramatic spike in fighting in Damascus over the past month.

In Tripoli, security sources said the Syria conflict has spilled over the border into Lebanon with clashes between rival communities.

Two people were killed today after a bloody day which saw six people killed in street battles between armed men from Sunni and Alawite groups, whose impoverished rival neighbourhoods are symbolically divided by a major thoroughfare called Syria Street.

The fighting has rattled the already fragile security situation in Lebanon, which lived under three decades of Syrian hegemony and remains deeply divided between supporters and opponents of Damascus.

The dead included a 13-year-old boy, while another 75 people have been wounded, including a boy of six who was paralysed by a gunshot wound and 15 soldiers, the sources said.

The fighting first erupted late on Monday in Tripoli, home to a Sunni community hostile to the regime of Syrian President Bashar Al Assad, and Alawites, an offshoot of Shiite Islam to which the Syrian leader belongs.