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Tuesday, June 21, 2011     INTELLIGENCE BRIEFING

Lebanon deploys Army to reinforce Syria border

NICOSIA — The Lebanese government has ordered the Army to deploy at its northern border.


Officials said the Lebanese Army has been reinforced in the northern port of Tripoli amid a deadly clash between supporters and opponents of the regime in neighboring Syria. They said the Army would seek to separate the nation's Alawite community from the far larger Sunni Muslim population.

"We expect tension to continue for at least months to come," an official said.

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On June 17, at least seven people were killed in clashes between Lebanon's Alawites and Sunnis, Middle East Newsline reported. The fighting was sparked by a demonstration by Sunnis against the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad, himself an Alawite.

"The Army succeeded in putting an end to the lava of the Syrian volcano and would continue with the security forces for any [future] confrontation," another official told Lebanon's An Nahar daily on June 19.

Over the last two months, thousands of Syrians, most of them Sunnis, fled their country for Lebanon. Officials said the Syrian military has sought to enter Lebanon in pursuit of the Sunni opponents.

So far, the Lebanese Army, trained and equipped by the United States although dominated by the Iranian-sponsored Hizbullah, has been deployed in two neighborhoods of Tripoli. Officials said the military presence could come under attack from Al Qaida-aligned insurgents in Tripoli.

"We will will respond with firmness and strength to the sources of fire from any side and will not show leniency with anyone carrying arms or jeopardizing the lives of people," the Lebanese Army said.

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