Top of the Morning: Gun Battles Rage in Lebanon; Brahimi and Assad Meet; US Foreign Policy Debate Tonight

Top stories from DAWNS Digest.

Serious Gun battles in Lebanon as Syria Conflict Spills

For months, the UN has been warning that the Syria conflict will spread throughout the region.Could this be the week it finally takes hold in Lebanon? “The Lebanese army promised decisive action to quell unrest linked to the Syria conflict as gunbattles flared in the capital Beirut and elsewhere on Monday after the assassination of a senior intelligence officer last week. The army command urged political leaders to be cautious in their public statements so as not to inflame passions further. It issued the warning after troops and gunmen exchanged fire in Beirut’s southern suburbs on Monday morning, wounding five people, while protesters blocked roads with burning tires. In the northern city of Tripoli, four people were killed, including a 9-year-old girl, and 12 wounded in clashes overnight and in the morning, security and medical sources said. The violence heightened fears that the civil war in Syria next door was spreading into Lebanon, upsetting its delicate political balance and threatening to usher in a new era of bloodshed between Lebanese allies and opponents of President Bashar al-Assad.” (Reuters

Blasts Rock Damascus as UN Envoy Meets with Assad

At least 13 people were killed in explosions in Damascus that targeted the Christian community, which largely backs Assad. Meanwhile, the joint UN-Arab League envoy Lakhdar Brahimi personally met with President Assad to press for a ceasefire. “Elsewhere in Damascus, Brahimi – the joint U.N.-Arab special envoy for Syria – urged both sides in the conflict to support a cease-fire during the four-day Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha that begins October 26. Brahimi told reporters following a closed-door meeting that he met earlier with Syrian opposition groups inside and outside the country to discuss his truce plan. He said he received ‘promises’ but not a ‘commitment’  from them to honor the cease-fire. He noted that he ‘found an overwhelming response’’ from Assad’s opponents to his cease-fire plan and that “all of them have said that it’s a good idea which they support.” He declined to reveal the Syrian president’s response to his plan, viewed as a preliminary step toward a larger deal.” (VOA

Obama and Romney to Square Off in Foreign Policy Debate

Monday night, the sparks will fly once again in the final debate, which will focus on foreign policy.Expect Libya to be front and center. This week’s debate in Boca Raton, Florida, coming just 15 days before the election and devoted entirely to foreign policy, could be the riskiest of the three nationally televised showdowns for Romney, largely because of his inexperience and recent blunders on the world stage. Romney’s missteps in criticizing Obama’s handling of a deadly September attack on the U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi – the focus of a vividly testy exchange in the previous debate – have complicated his broader strategy of trying to cast the president as a weak steward of American power abroad. Deprived of one of his most potent lines of attack, expect Romney to instead focus more of his criticism on Obama’s policies toward Iran, Israel, Syria, China, Afghanistan and Russia.  (Reuters