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Lebanon: violent clashes rock downtown Tripoli

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Three days of heavy fighting took place between the Lebanese army and jihadist groups in Tripoli.

The army made use of artillery weapons in the city center. Tens of thousands of people were forced to flee their homes to escape the fighting.

The clashes left 16 dead, including 11 soldiers and 154 wounded.

In the Old Town, more than 50 shops were completely burned down and over 200 others suffered severe damage.

Lebanon’s second largest city, Tripoli has a population of 200,000 inhabitants. Since the beginning of the aggression against Syria, the town has served as a haven for jihadists fighting in that neighboring country - foreigners but also Lebanese. Due to Lebanon’s community-based constitution, certain leaders of this largely Sunni-dominated city sided with the jihadists against other communities.

For two years, deadly clashes have pitted opponents of the Syrian Arab Republic, bent on its destruction, to the Alawite population without eliciting the slightest reaction from the authorities. The flags of Al Qaeda, then Daesh, were floating in the main squares.

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