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Rebel gains in Syria embolden Lebanese Sunnis

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Some analysts worry that the combination of a weak moderate Sunni leadership in Lebanon, the rise of new radical leaders such as Sheikh Assir, and a sense of Sunni triumphalism as the Assad regime teeters will inflame Sunni-Shiite tensions even further. The analysts worry this could lead to clashes or even suicide bomb attacks in Hezbollah-supporting strongholds, invoking a harsh response from the Shiite organization.

Sunni support for rebels

Most Sunnis in Lebanon support the Syrian opposition against Assad’s rule and some have even joined armed rebel groups to fight Syrian government forces. On Sunday, Syrian state television broadcast footage showing several bodies that it said were part of a group of 21 Lebanese Salafist fighters who fell into an ambush near the town of Tel Kalakh having slipped into Syria from Lebanon. The men were reportedly from Tripoli and other areas of north Lebanon.

Furthermore, Okab Saqr, a Lebanese member of Parliament who, despite being a Shiite, is a member of the mainly Sunni Future Movement headed by former Prime Minister Saad Hariri, confirmed at the weekend that it was his voice heard on an audio recording released last week by a Lebanese television station in which he discusses an arms deal with a Free Syrian Army commander. For months rumors have circulated that Mr. Saqr was in Turkey helping provide arms and ammunition for the FSA, although he denied the accusation in a televised interview last month before the audio recordings were aired.

But Lebanese Sunnis are not alone in intervening in the Syrian civil war.

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