Hezbollah overruns west Beirut as Lebanon on brink


Jocelyne Zablit
AFP
May 9, 2008

Hezbollah gunmen seized control of west Beirut on Friday after a third day of battles with pro-government foes in the Lebanese capital pushed the nation dangerously close to all-out civil war.

The sectarian fighting had eased by early afternoon as the army and police moved across areas now in the hands of Shiite opposition forces who fired celebratory gunshots wildly into the air after routing Sunni militants loyal to the Western-backed government.

“There are no clashes anymore because no one is standing in the way of the opposition forces,” a security official said on condition of anonymity.

But as the guns fell largely silent, it was unclear what the immediate future would hold for Lebanon, amid fears the protracted political feud could plunge the nation back to the dark days of the 1975-1990 civil war.

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