Rights group urges Lebanon to rein in sectarian tensions amid spillover of Syrian war

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An international human rights organization has urged Lebanon to rein in sectarian tensions that have been on the rise amid a spillover of Syria's civil war.

Human Rights Watch said Friday that authorities should better protect minority Alawites — members of an offshoot Shiite sect — who are increasingly coming under attack by Sunni extremists in the northern Lebanese city of Tripoli.

The New York-based watchdog says Alawites in Tripoli's Jabal Mohsen district have been beaten and stabbed, and the whole community has endured gun battles and mortar attacks over the past year.

Syria's nearly 3-year-old conflict has deepened sectarian tensions in Lebanon, where factions loyal to Syria's warring sides often clash. Lebanon's Sunni Muslims support Syrian rebels trying to topple President Bashar Assad's government, which is dominated by Alawites.