01:29 - Source: CNN
Lebanese soldiers, militants clash

Story highlights

NEW: Two militants, two civilians are killed in clashes, army says

NEW: Report: Six soldiers are also killed

Fighting continues in several areas as army targets militants in security campaign

Clashes highlight a rift in Lebanon's Sunni community

Beirut, Lebanon CNN —  

Lebanese military forces battled militants in Tripoli on Saturday, resulting in the deaths of two militants and two civilians, the Lebanese army said.

At least six Lebanese soldiers – including an officer – were killed, according to Lebanon’s state-run National News Agency

There were 24 people wounded in the attack, NNA reports. That figure includes civilians and soldiers.
This constitutes a drop in the death toll of soldiers. Previously, nine had been reported killed.

The militants are Sunnis who sympathize with ISIS extremists, who have been waging attacks inside neighboring Syria and, beyond that, in parts of Iraq, according to Lebanese media reports. The militants are said to feel marginalized by the Lebanese army, which is heavily allied with Shiite Hezbollah.

In the Tripoli violence, both sides used heavy weapons and rockets.

The militants have withdrawn from the contested Old Souks area, NNA reported Saturday afternoon. Local leaders and clerics helped mediate the withdrawal, it said. Most of the clashes had been taking place in Old Souks since Friday evening, security officials said.

Fighting continues in the nearby Al Muhammara area and the Sunni neighborhood of Bab al-Tabbaneh, security officials said.

According to broadcaster LBCI TV, fighting between the army and Sunni militants has intensified in the neighboring district of Akkar.

The fighting started Friday when soldiers carried out a security campaign targeting the militants.

Security forces have raided several homes in and around Tripoli, confiscating explosives and weapons, including assault rifles and rocket-propelled grenade launchers.

The fighting is also highlighting divisions within Lebanon’s Sunni community. In a statement run on the website of An Nahar, the most respected local paper, Prime Minister Tammam Salam, a Sunni, condemned the attacks on the army, as has one of his most important predecessors, Saad Hariri.

At the same time, the state-run National News Agency reported that security personnel have raided a guardhouse at the home of Khaled al Daher, a Sunni member of Parliament from Tripoli, and confiscated four rifles.

Freelancer Marc Sirois reported from Beirut. CNN’s Laura Smith-Spark contributed from London. CNN’s Joshua Berlinger and Yousuf Basil contributed from Atlanta.