Lebanese authorities have received the first three bodies from a group of 14 Lebanese and Palestinian gunmen killed in Syria, as fighting triggered by the deaths continued to shake the northern port town of Tripoli.

Clashes with machine guns and rocket-propelled grenades killed at least two people yesterday, raising the death total to more than 14 in a week, and more than 140 wounded.

Tensions in northern Lebanon have run high since at least 14 Sunni Muslim Lebanese and Palestinian gunmen from the area were killed by Syrian security forces. It appeared the men had joined the armed insurgency against Syrian President Bashar al Assad.

Loading article content

Syria's conflict has not only stirred sectarian fighting in its own population, but also revived sectarian clashes in Tripoli, whose communal make-up reflects that of Syria.

Syrian state television aired graphic video of the dead Lebanese gunmen, and families of the dead demonstrated last week to demand the return of the bodies. An agreement was eventually reached between Syrian and Lebanese officials to transfer the bodies gradually.

Meanwhile, Russian and US diplomats yesterday met UN peace envoy Lakhdar Brahimi for talks on the civil war in Syria. Russia agreed to take part in the talks in Geneva, Switzerland, on the condition there would be no demand for Mr Assad to step down.