Posted by: Lister | May 20, 2007

Fatah al Islam fights in Lebanon

The fighting happened near a Palestinian refugee camp, Nahr al-Bared, beginning at houses in Tripoli when government forces attempted to arrest suspects in a bank robbery. Under a decades old agreement, the Lebanese army isn’t allowed inside the camp. They have shelled it with tank-fire, though. Al-Jazeera reports that it received calls from 40 injured people who were unable to flee the violence. Also,

The Lebanese army said 13 soldiers and at least ten Fatah al-Islam fighters had died. A civilian was also reported dead.

[…] The Lebanese army cannot enter Palestinian refugee camps in line with a 38-year-old agreement.

However, it has tightened its grip around the camp since the authorities charged members of the group with carrying out two bus bombings in a Christian area near Beirut that killed three civilians in February.

The Lebanese army has also stepped up security in the area surrounding Ain al-Hilweh refugee camp in southern Lebanon.

Fatah al-Islam is reportedly linked to al-Qaeda. I blogged about the reported connection to Syria earlier.

The France24 site isn’t working at the moment so I’ve taken this from the google cache. Dated the 11th May 2007, it reports a claim of a spokesman of Fatah al-Islam (not confirmed by Syria)

“The Syrian forces killed two military chiefs of Fatah al-Islam, Abu Laith al-Shami and Abu Abdel Rahman al-Shami, as well as two combatants,” said the spokesman, who is based in the Nahr al-Bared Palestinian refugee camp in north Lebanon. They were killed, he added, “while trying to get into Iraq to support their Islamic brothers.”

Syria has not immediately reported the deaths nor confirmed the claimed clash.

[…] Spokesman Abu Salim did not give the nationality of those killed but from the nom de guerres of the two military chiefs they could be Syrian — al-Shami is Arabic for Damascus.

He also said the militant group would avenge the killings, but he declined to elaborate.

[…] Fatah al-Islam, which is ideologically close to the Al-Qaeda network of Osama bin Laden, boasts about 150 militants who have fought in Iraq.

The group, along with another Islamist group Jund ash-Sham (Soldiers of Damascus) have boosted their presence in Lebanon’s 12 Palestinian refugee camps in recent years.

Lebanese authorities have accused Fatah al-Islam of working for the Syrian intelligence services.

Syria denies those claims, and has a history of fighting Fatah al-Islam.

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