BEIRUT (AP) — Syria’s civil war spilled over into neighboring Lebanon once again on Sunday, with gunbattles in the northern city of Tripoli between supporters and opponents of Syrian President Bashar Assad’s regime that left four dead.
Nine Syrian judges and prosecutors also defected to the opposition. It was the latest setback for the regime, which in recent weeks has seen a tough rebel challenge in its seat of power, Damascus, and has lost two air bases to opposition fighters.
Four people were killed and 12 were wounded in the gunfights, the agency said.
Tripoli has been the scene of frequent sectarian clashes between the Alawite and Sunni Muslim communities. Last week, the Lebanese army sent additional troops to Tripoli to try to prevent clashes that broke out over reports that 17 Lebanese men were killed after entering Syria to fight alongside the rebels.
In Syria, fighting between opposition fighters and regime troops was concentrated in northern Idlib province, in the Damascus suburbs and in Aleppo, Syria’s largest city, according to the Britain-based opposition activist group Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. At least 21 people were killed in fighting Sunday, said the group, which relies on reports from activists on the ground.
The defecting judges posted a joint statement online urging others to join them and break ranks with Mr. Assad’s regime. There have been a series of high-level defections over the past year, including Mr. Assad’s former prime minister.
The Observatory said the latest defectors came from the northern city of Idlib.
Associated Press writer Jamal Halaby in Amman, Jordan, contributed to this report.
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