05/27/2013, 00.00
LEBANON
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As rockets are fired in Beirut, concerns are growing over Lebanon's future

Hizbollah strongholds are hit. For Lebanon's Defence minister, an attempt is underway to drag the country into the Syrian conflict. UN and Arab League urge the Party of God not to exacerbate the crisis. In addition to Tripoli, clashes are also reported between Sunnis and Shias in Sidon.

Beirut (AsiaNews) - Two rockets hit Shiyah District (pictured) last night. Four people were wounded in this Hizbollah stronghold in southern of Beirut. Two more rockets were also fired in the Bekaa Valley, another stronghold of the Shia movement, but caused no casualties. The Lebanese army is also looking for an unexploded rocket fired from a location between Baabda and Aitat.

The attacks are said to be related to the statement made just 12 hours earlier by Hizbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah, that his movement would continue to support militarily Syrian President Assad.

This, according to Syrian opposition sources, has cost the Party of God dozens of deaths. However, Syrian sources say that Hizbullah military support has helped President Bashar Assad's forces gain the upper hand in the battle for Qusayr, which the Syrian army and Hizbollah are said to control 80 per cent.

The Free Syrian Army, which includes most of Syria's armed opposition, has denied involvement in the rockets against Hizbollah.

What is happening gives further arguments to those who fear for the future of Lebanon. "What is certain is that the [rocket attacks] were an attempt to create splits among the Lebanese ranks and drag the [Syrian] strife to Lebanon," Lebanon's Defense Minister Fayez Ghosn said.

There are plenty of signs that it is working. Clashes in Tripoli are set to continue today for an eighth day between the rival neighborhoods of Bab al-Tabbaneh and Jabal Mohsen, this despite the Army's intervention.

Yesterday there was another victim, bringing to 24 the number of those who lost their lives in the clashes, along with 167 injured.

A clash between an official in the Hizbollah-linked Resistance Brigades and Salafists left one man wounded in the southern city of Sidon over the weekend.

Finally, there is the concern that an attempt is underway to involve Israel, after state-run National News Agency reported a rocket launched against the Jewish state. The attack has not been confirmed either by the Lebanese army, nor the Israeli one, perhaps to avoid increasing tensions.

At the international level, the confirmed participation of the Lebanese Shia movement in the Syrian conflict has raised fears that Lebanon might be dragged into the war.

Arab League chief Nabil Elaraby on Sunday urged Hizbollah "urged the leaders of Hezbollah to reconsider their stance and not get involved in the killing in Syria, stressing that the only way to protect Lebanon . . . is to protect Lebanon's internal unity".

UN leader Ban Ki-moon said Sunday he was "deeply concerned". In a statement, Ban called on all nations and groups to "cease supporting the violence inside Syria," his spokesman Martin Nesirky said.

"All in the region should act responsibly and work towards lowering rhetoric and calming tensions in the region," he added.

"As preparations are ongoing for the international conference on Syria," Nesirky explained, "the secretary general urges all countries, organizations and groups immediately to cease supporting the violence inside Syria and instead to use their influence to promote a political solution to Syria's tragedy."

The Syrian government has agreed to participate. "We think . . . that the international conference represents a good opportunity for a political solution to the crisis in Syria," Foreign Minister Muallem said. (PD)

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