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Lebanon's Sectarian Violence Spreads to Mountains Near Beirut

  • VOA News

Lebanon's sectarian violence has spread to the mountains overlooking Beirut, where government supporters and opponents engaged in heavy fighting on Sunday.

In those battles, supporters of pro-government Druze leader Walid Jumblatt exchanged fire with opposition fighters from the Shi'ite group Hezbollah and a rival Druze sect.

Explosions and gunfire echoed across the Aley region until Jumblatt and rival Druze leader Talal Erslan agreed to urge their militiamen to cease fire. The fighting subsided by Sunday evening and Lebanese soldiers began deploying in the area.

Officials say five days of factional violence across Lebanon has killed at least 42 people and wounded another 150.

Beirut was calm on Sunday, a day after Hezbollah gunmen and their allies withdrew from the streets in city's western section and turned over the area to Lebanese troops. But some roadblocks set up by Hezbollah remained in place, forcing Beirut's airport to remain closed.

Sectarian fighting also erupted early Sunday in the northern Lebanese city of Tripoli. One woman was killed.

Senior diplomats from the Arab League met in Cairo Sunday and issued a statement calling for an immediate stop to the fighting in Lebanon. The League also decided to send a delegation to Beirut to try to mediate an end to the violence.

Hezbollah pulled back its fighters in Beirut after Lebanon's military said it would reverse the government's dismissal of a Hezbollah-backed security official at Beirut airport. The military also advised the government to scrap its plan to investigate Hezbollah's phone network in Lebanon.

Lebanese Prime Minister Fuad Siniora said Sunday that his Cabinet will meet soon to decide whether to go along with the military's proposals.

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