If You've got neither Hamas nor Fatah, get yourself Fatah Islam
Just as the danger of Sunni extremism in Lebanon has been mentioned . . . though it seems to be Palestinians and not local Sunnis . . .
Violence flares in Lebanon, killing 39
By BASSEM MROUE, Associated Press Writer
TRIPOLI, Lebanon - Lebanese tanks pounded the headquarters of a group with suspected links to al-Qaida in a Palestinian refugee camp near Tripoli Sunday after the northern city's worst clashes in two decades killed 22 soldiers and 17 militants.
The clashes between troops surrounding the Nahr el-Bared camp and Fatah Islam fighters began early in the morning shortly after police raided a militant-occupied apartment on a major thoroughfare in Tripoli and a gunbattle erupted, witnesses said.
Hundreds of Lebanese applauded at the army as its tanks shelled the camp — a sign of the long-standing tensions between some Lebanese and the tens of thousands of Palestinians who took refuge from fighting in Israel over the past decades.
"We strongly back the Lebanese army troops and what they are doing," said Abed Attar, a resident of Tripoli who stood watching the tanks fire into the camp while others cheered.
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A Lebanese soldier lies dead while the army and Fatah Al-Islam fight each other on the streets of Tripoli
A Lebanese soldier wounded in the clashes
Tripoli residents cheer on Lebanese troops
Nahr el-Bared under fire
Israeli peace loonies are strongly advised to visit Lebanese blogs right now to receive explanations on why it's ok to shell residential areas when it comes to fighting terrorist networks. Reports from inside the camp speak about dozens of dead and more than one hundred wounded. And no, the Lebanese army shelling the camp uses no precision-guided munition.
"We all knew this was coming. We've been hearing about arms smuggling and preparations for terror actions. Everyone knows this, even children, but we never thought it would happen here," said Mahmoud Rawi, a driver from Tripoli, watching the fighting.
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While clashes near the Palestinian camps, especially with Fatah al-Islam, have become almost routine, this was the first time fighting had spilled into a major city.
A Tripoli street after clashesStreet battles in Tripoli may indicate that the group has supporters inside the city. Its support base may be not necessarily restricted to the camp itself.
The Lebanese seem to be getting another front to fight on in their never ending internal mess.
A convoy of U.N. relief supplies was hit in a third day of fighting Tuesday between Lebanese troops and an Islamic militant group holed up in a crowded Palestinian refugee camp.
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Dozens of refugees angered by the assault on Nahr el-Bared burned tires in protest in the southern camp of Ein el-Hilweh, Lebanon's largest Palestinian camp. Protesters also burned tires in Rashidiyeh camp, farther south.
The protests raised the specter that Palestinians in Lebanon's 11 other refugee camps could rise up in anger over the assault on Nahr el-Bared. The overcrowded camps — housing more than 215,000 refugees, out of a total of 400,000 Palestinians in Lebanon — are also home to many armed Palestinian factions who often battle each other and have seen a rising number of Islamic extremists.
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Overnight, the Lebanese government ordered the army to finish off the militants who have set up in Nahr el-Bared, where 31,000 Palestinian refugees live on the outskirts of the northern port of Tripoli . . .
At the same time, Lebanese troops sought to flush out fighters hiding in Tripoli. Soldiers raided a building where Fatah Islam militants were believed to be hiding out, blasting an apartment with grenades, gunfire and tear gas.
They found no one in the apartment, but hours later, while pursuing a militant, they ordered him to surrender. He dropped a pistol but then detonated an explosives belt on his body, police officials said. None of the troops was injured.
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Reports emerged from Nahr el-Bared of heavy destruction from the three days of bombardment by Lebanese artillery and tanks and militants who returned fire with mortars and automatic weapons.
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Black smoke billowed from the area Tuesday amid artillery and machine gun exchanges between troops and militants. Lebanese troops skirmished with Fatah Islam fighters, trying to seize militant positions on the outskirts of the camp.
"There are dead and wounded on the road, inside the camp," screamed a Lebanese woman, Amina Alameddine, who ran weeping from her home on the edge of the camp. She fled with her daughter and four other relatives after Fatah Islam fighters started shooting at the army from the roof of her house.
Lebanon is watching Nahr el-Bared
Following the attack on Ashrafieh, the Sunni district of Verdun was bombed in Beirut on Sunday. The first attack of this kind and a clear retaliation for Nahr el-Bared.
Probably the most important thing to notice, when one sees Lebanese Sunnis cheering on the army while it's shelling a Palestinian camp, is that pan Arabism is dead in Lebanon. Lebanon did acquire a feeble semblance of a nation.
Of course the Syrians did get another proxy in Lebanon besides Hezbollah - the Palestinians, but the Syrians are wrong if they think that the bulk of the Sunnis is still ready to devastate the country for the sake of somebody else's cause. These Sunnis are Lebanese first and only then Sunnis. Gone are the days when the Sunnis were fighting the Christians for the Palestinian cause. Behind the ugly scenes of Nahr el-Bared and Verdun there is hiding the beauty of a simple fact - a new nation was born, the Lebanese.
Still, this would be a small consolation if the continued shelling of the camp triggers a Lebanon wide Palestinian uprising.
It's never too late to have a happy childhood
Palestinian children in the camp of Bedawi are burning tyres (Tripoli)
People flooded out of a besieged Palestinian refugee camp Tuesday night, waving white flags and telling of bodies lying in the streets and inside wrecked houses after three days of fighting between Lebanese troops and Islamic militants.
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"The smell of corpses was everywhere. There was no food, water or electricity and they were shooting at us," Dania Mahmoud Kassem, a 21-year-old university student, said of the past three days in the camp, which is on the outskirts of the northern port city of Tripoli.
Another refugee, Ibrahim Issa Dawoud, said he, his wife and six children — ages 3 to 13 — had taken refuge in a mosque for three days, living off potato chips while Lebanese army tanks and artillery fired at militants armed with mortars and automatic weapons.
"Even the cemetery was bombarded and the skeletons were uprooted," the 42-year-old said as the left with his family. "We thought this was our last chance because they will bulldoze the camp."
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Reports from fleeing residents raised fears of a high civilian toll.
"There's been a massacre. I witnessed it. In one room alone there are 10 dead. Six shells fell on us, the bodies were cut to pieces," one man shouted angrily as he and a few others managed to get out of the camp during the brief afternoon truce.
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At Borj Arab, a small town about 1 1/2 miles from the camp, 7-year-old Mohammed al-Mouri leapt for the handle on the metal shutter of his family's sweets shop, struggling to pull the shutter down with his weight as women up and down the street hustled children inside and men took to rooftops with family guns.
"Do you hear the shooting? They are coming!" his 20-year-old sister, Tamam al-Mouri, said inside. "Everyone is afraid. There are children, and they will shoot them."
Mouri, whose father is Lebanese and whose mother is a Palestinian refugee, said the last she heard from friends and family inside the camp was Sunday. A cousin who had taken a 6-year-old daughter for treatment at the camp hospital called to say doctors and nurses had fled when fighting broke out, leaving patients trapped inside the hospital.
"She was crying," Mouri said. "She was saying, 'The shooting is everywhere.' " Recalling a visit to the camp about two months ago, Mouri said she had seen, at a distance, masked men jumping from walls with guns, in what residents and neighbors said was military training inside the camp.
This information is clearly corroborated by many reports of massive presence of foreign Jihadists among the members of Fatah Islam.
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Kim Howells, British Foreign Office minister, warned during a visit to Beirut in March (!!! NB) that "seasoned jihadists" from Iraq were flocking to Lebanon because they regard it as a soft target for terrorist attacks.
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