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Up to 10 Dead In Lebanon As Syrian Conflict Spills

A Syrian rebel fighter mans a checkpoint in the northern city of Aleppo on August 20.
Up to 10 people have reportedly been killed over the past two days in fighting in Lebanon linked to the conflict in neighboring Syria.

The clashes in the Lebanese city of Tripoli involve the Alawite minority -- whose members include Syria's ruling al-Assad family -- and Sunni Muslims, who are in a majority in the country.

Reports on August 22 said more than 100 people have been wounded in the fighting this week along a sectarian fault line between the Sunni district of Bab al-Tabbaneh and the Alawite area of Jebel Mohsen.

Analysts say the Lebanon fighting reflects the Syrian conflict, which is increasingly pitting the mainly Sunni opposition against President Bashar al-Assad's Alawites.

It has also underscored concerns about the risk of the Syrian war evolving into a larger regional sectarian conflict.

Alawites split from the main branch of Shi'ite Islam around 1,000 years ago.

Over the centuries, Alawites have developed into a distinct community in the mountains around Latakia, the principal Syrian port city on the Mediterranean Sea.

Fatalities In Damascus

Inside Syria, opposition activists said at least 11 suspected rebels were killed in the country on August 22 as government troops backed by tanks stormed an upscale Damascus neighborhood.

Reflecting concerns about the regional impact of the Syrian conflict, the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad said America's top military officer had discussed the Syrian situation with Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki.

The embassy said in a statement on August 22 that General Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Maliki had discussed "regional and security issues, including the situation in Syria." No further details were given.

Thousands of Syrian refugees and returning Iraqis who had been living in Syria have flooded into neighboring Iraq in recent months, straining Iraqi resources and raising concerns about a possible destabilization of the fragile security situation in the Middle Eastern country.

U.S. troops completed their withdrawal from Iraq last December.

Iraqi officials have warned that Al-Qaeda militants are flowing into Syria, and smugglers continue to ship arms into the country across Iraq's porous borders.

Estimates say around 20,000 people -- comprising civilians, rebel fighters, and members of the security forces -- have been killed since the Syrian conflict erupted 17 months ago in March 2011.

Tens of thousands of Syrians have fled to the neighboring countries.

Based on reporting by AP, AFP, and Reuters
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