The gunmen—from rival Sunni groups—exchanged gunfire and rocket-propelled-grenades for several hours on the edge Beirut’s predominantly Sunni neighborhood of Tariq Jadideh, the worst fighting in the Lebanese capital in nearly two years.
The violence was also the latest spillover of the Syrian civil war into its smaller neighbor. Lebanon has been on edge since Al-Assad’s troops recently took a key rebel stronghold near the two countries’ volatile border.
By dawn, cracks of gunfire and sporadic explosions were still heard around Beirut. Lebanese soldiers in armored personnel carriers and Humvees fanned out on the edge of the district as scores of gunmen, many of them masked, pulled out from the streets in the morning hours.
Lebanon’s Internal Security Forces said one person was killed and 15 were wounded in the fighting. The authorities did not say if the victims were civilians or gunmen.
Shaker Birjawi, head of the pro-Assad Arab Movement Party, said four of his followers were wounded in the fighting. State-run National News Agency said Birjawi’s AMP fought against rival Sunni gunmen.
The fighting comes after days of clashes, also related to the civil war next door, killed 25 and wounded more than 160 people in the northern Lebanese city of Tripoli.
Sunday’s clashes were the worst in Beirut since May 2012, when Birjawi’s gunmen were forced out of Tariq Jadideh.
Syria’s crisis, which began in March 2011, has killed more than 140,000 people in Syria so far and has sharply divided the Lebanese.