Syria's civil war has spilled across the border into Lebanon, a country that has battled its own civil war for 15 years.
But an arrest earlier this month of a former Lebanese government minister, Information Minister Michel Samaha, has suggested the conflict may be causing Lebanon to slip further away from Damascus' long domination. Samaha is a prominent supporter of Syria's embattled president.
The chaos could open the door for Sunni Muslim fighters in northern Lebanon to establish supply lines to the rebels inside Syria in their battle to oust President Bashar Assad.
"I think the policy (in Lebanon) has been shifting away from alliance with Syria," said Ayham Kamel, a Middle East analyst at the Eurasia Group in London. "The Syrian regime has been under intense pressure, so its allies in Lebanon have re-calibrated."
Syria's opponents in Lebanon cited the Samaha case as proof that Damascus was trying to incite sectarian strife in its neighbor to deflect attention from its own problems.
Syrian regime forces shelled two Damascus districts on Wednesday before troops backed by tanks swept through, carrying out house-to-house raids in search of opposition fighters. At least 31 suspected rebels were killed, activists said.
The violence is part of a dramatic surge in fighting in the past month in Damascus, one of many fronts Assad's regime is struggling to contain.
Tensions and intermittent fighting in the northern Lebanon city of Tripoli continued Wednesday following two days of clashes between pro- and anti-Assad groups that killed at least six people and wounded more than 70.
For much of the past 30 years, Lebanese have lived under Syrian military and political domination.