Syria's conflict is fast becoming Lebanon's crisis

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Lebanese policemen fire tear gas during clashes with angry protesters in Beirut Photo: REUTERS/Mahmoud Kheir

The volleys fired by troops in Beirut this afternoon were aimed high.

They were warning shots. The warning signs are there for all to see.

Lebanon’s sectarian divisions, never buried too deeply, are bursting onto the streets.

Angry protesters break through a barrier near Lebanese government offices in Beirut Credit: REUTERS/Mahmoud Kheir

Amid clouds of tear gas, there were clashes close to Parliament as angry crowds tried to storm the Prime Minister’s office. Lebanon’s government this weekend has teetered close to collapse.

Now, violence after a day of mourning and mass protest.

Many thousands thronged through Martyr's Square in Beirut to witness the funeral of the country’s top intelligence chief.

Wissam Al Hassan’s coffin was cloaked in the national flag.

Members of Internal Security Forces carry the coffins of the security chief Hassan and his bodyguard in Ashrafiyeh, Beirut Credit: REUTERS/Mohamed Azakir

He has hunted down Syrian agents in his country.

On Friday, he was murdered by a car bomb planted, so many believe, by Syrian agents or their local allies.

Opposition groups claim their own government is dominated by factions all too willing to do the Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s bidding.

The aftermath of Friday's blast in Beirut Credit: REUTERS/Wadih Shlink

The Syrian leader himself met the international mediator, Lakhdar Brahimi, in Damascus.

He wants to negotiate a ceasefire, but he needs all sides in the conflict to sign up.

As they talked, another car bomb killed 13 people in central Damascus and seemed to wreck any hopes of a truce.

But for once, the main focus of international concern is not on Syria, but on its neighbour.

It is plagued by the same sectarian divisions.

Syria’s conflict is becoming Lebanon’s crisis.