TRIPOLI, Lebanon—Syria's civil conflict is rapidly expanding into a regional proxy battle that threatens to cleave neighboring countries, including Lebanon and Iraq, as their populations harden along sectarian lines.
Syria's struggle is reopening sectarian fault lines in places like Tripoli, a city in northern Lebanon where tensions have long simmered. The area's minority Alawite residents belong to the same Muslim offshoot sect as Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, and have long supported the family regime. Meanwhile, Sunni residents in recent months have provided shelter, hospitals and a base for arms trade to Syrian rebels, all sides acknowledge.
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