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Sunni cleric's call for jihad in Syria highlights sectarian divide

Sunni cleric's call for jihad in Syria highlights sectarian divide
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The Syrian war’s stark sectarian divisions have been highlighted with an appeal from a leading Sunni Muslim cleric for holy war against the government.

Sheikh Youssef al-Qaradawi, an Egyptian based in Qatar, called on all who were able to undertake jihad to go to Syria to defend those who were being killed by the regime.

It follows the recent intervention by the Shi’ite Lebanese group Hezbollah which said it was fighting alongside President Assad’s forces in Qusair, the strategically important border town.

This weekend has seen more fierce fighting in the area.

In Lebanon elections have been postponed due to the Syrian war. On Friday Sunni protesters in Tripoli chanted their support for Syria’s rebels and their opposition to Hezbollah.

Sheikh Bilal Masri, a Sunni cleric, called it the “party of the devil”:
“We fought in Hezbollah’s ranks, we resisted the Israeli enemy. But now we find that the Israeli enemy is more merciful to Sunnis in Syria than Hezbollah,” he said.

The prominent role of Hezbollah fighters has Syrian rebels, who have threatened to take the battle into Lebanon.

Yesterday several rockets were reportedly fired from rebel-controlled Syrian territory into Lebanon’s eastern Bekaa Valley.