Skip to comments.Lebanon says will hit terrorism as truce holds (Lebanon vows to crush Fatah al-Islam militant group)
Posted on 05/24/2007 9:38:13 AM PDT by NormsRevenge
BEIRUT (Reuters) - Lebanese leaders vowed on Thursday to stamp out an Islamist militant group that has been fighting the army at a camp in the north of the country.
Relief workers planned aid deliveries to thousands of Palestinians forced from a refugee camp by fighting between the army and militant group Fatah al-Islam as a fragile truce held.
"We will not surrender to terrorism," Prime Minister Fouad Siniora said in a televised speech to his nation, referring to Fatah al-Islam and three bomb attacks in Lebanon this week.
"We will work on uprooting terrorism and finishing it off."
Dozens have been killed in recent days in Lebanon's worst internal violence since the 1975-1990 civil war.
Druze leader Walid Jumblatt, a leading member of the governing coalition, urged Palestinian groups Fatah and Hamas to act against Fatah al-Islam in the Nahr al-Bared camp.
"Either they root out (the group) in Nahr al-Bared or the state will root out the terrorism," he said. "The state cannot ... accept a compromise. The moment that it accepts a compromise, the state will vanish," he said.
Heavy army shelling of the camp has drawn criticism from rights group Amnesty International and stirred anger among Lebanon's Palestinian community of nearly 400,000. An Arab agreement stops the army from entering refugee camps in Lebanon.
Siniora sought to assure Palestinians that his government was not targeting civilians. "There will not be strife or any feud between the Lebanese and the Palestinians," he said.
He said Fatah al-Islam, which is led by a Palestinian, is a "terrorist organization that claims to be Islamic and to defend Palestine" and was "trying to ride on the suffering of the Palestinian people and their struggle."
At least 22 militants and 32 soldiers have been killed in the clashes -- Lebanon's worst internal violence since the 1975-1990 civil war. Lebanon says between 50 and 60 militants have been killed.
Dozens of civilians have been killed in the camp according to the accounts of Palestinians who have fled since the truce took hold on Tuesday.
Beirut has also been rocked by two bombs this week and a third struck east of the capital on Wednesday night. One person was killed in the blasts.
Palestinians were still trickling out of Nahr al-Bared camp on Thursday. Thousands have taken shelter in the nearby Beddawi refugee camp and the northern port city of Tripoli.
Jamila Ahmad, 35, said she had been sheltering in a room with 20 people during fierce fighting earlier in the week.
"A shell hit next to our house and the debris fell all over us," Ahmad said as she left the camp with her five children.
UNRWA, the U.N. agency which cares for Palestinian refugees, said around 12,000 people had left the camp since the lull in fighting on Tuesday. "There are still many people in the camp -- around 18,000," UNRWA spokeswoman Hoda Elturk said.
"Circulating in the camp is not very safe, although the ceasefire holds so far."
Fatah al-Islam has little support among Lebanon's Palestinian refugee community.
The faction shares the Sunni Islamist militant ideology of al Qaeda. The Lebanese authorities say they have arrested Saudi, Algerian, Tunisian, Syrian and Lebanese members of the group.
Anti-Syrian Lebanese leaders say Fatah al-Islam is a tool of Syrian intelligence. Damascus and the group deny the charge.
(Additional reporting by Khaled Yacoub Oweis, Tom Perry and Yara Bayoumy at Nahr al-Bared)
A Palestinian girl cries as she sits in a school which was converted into the Beddawi refugee camp, after fleeing from Nahr al-Bared reufugee camp in northern Lebanon, May 24, 2007. Lebanon's prime minister vowed to stamp out an Islamist militant group that has been locked in fighting with the Lebanese army at a camp in the north of the country where a fragile truce held for a second day on Thursday. REUTERS/Jamal Saidi (LEBANON)
Lebanese commandos secure the southern entrance of the besieged camp of Nahr al-Bared, 23 May 2007. Lebanese leaders have vowed to crush Islamic fighters holed up in a Palestinian refugee camp, raising fears of a deadly new showdown after fierce fighting that has killed 69 people and sent thousands fleeing.(AFP/Ramzi Haidar)
Since Islam Al-Fatah is Al Qaeda, maybe the US could spare a gunship, or two, or even three.
I haven’t heard if a request from Lebanon for support in the form of funds and equipment is forthcoming from the US, well, not officially anyway. I’m sure Israel would be glad to contribute.
Interesting to see the Lebonese using the M16 rifle.
Al Qaeda or Hezbollah.
It is time to annihilate these terrorists.
A Palestinian girl weeps as she flees with her family the besieged camp of Nahr al-Bared in north Lebanon. Fighting erupted anew Thursday night between Islamist guerrillas entrenched in a Palestinian refugee camp and Lebanese troops besieging them, ending a tenuous truce in a battle that has already seen at least 69 people killed.(AFP/Ramzi Haidar)
United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon speaks during a press conference on 03 May 2007. The United Nations said Thursday it would send a team to Lebanon early next week to check on reported arms smuggling across the border with neighboring Syria.(AFP/File/Ali al-Saadi)
Well, these guys are at least looking like professinal warriors.....