Supporters of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad carry a Syrian flag depicting him during a pro-Syria rally in Lebanon (File photo).
At least three people have been injured after groups supporting and opposing the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad clashed in the northern Lebanese city of Tripoli.
According to Lebanese sources, pro- and anti-Assad groups exchanged fire in the rival neighborhoods of Bab al-Tabbaneh and Jabal Mohsen on Friday shortly after an anti-Assad rally was held in Tripoli.
The army had deployed in the area earlier in the day but retreated
Two of the injured are reported to be soldiers, while the third is a passerby.
"There is a heavy armed presence and shooting in the Sunni Muslim neighborhood of Bab al-Tebbaneh and the Alawite neighborhood of Jabal Mohsen," a security official said on condition of anonymity.
Lebanese Prime Minister Najib Mikati has told the head of the army to "take necessary measures to halt these events" in the city.
Syrian President Assad, who is fighting an armed insurgency against his government, enjoys the support of the Alawite community.
Syria has been experiencing unrest since mid-March and many people have lost their lives in the violence. The West and the Syrian opposition accuse the government of killing protesters. But Damascus blames ''outlaws, saboteurs and armed terrorist groups'' for the unrest, insisting that it is being orchestrated from abroad.